Breakdowns force National Grid to issue power supply crunch alert

Posted: May 10, 2016 by oldbrew in Energy
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Britain is walking a tightrope with electricity supply as this incident shows. We’re in a minor heatwave at present and daylight hours are long.
H/T Daily Telegraph

A series of power plant breakdowns and the partial failure of a key electricity import cable forced National Grid to issue an urgent call for more power to keep the lights on on Monday night.

One power plant was paid more than 30 times the usual price of power after the Grid issued the “Notification of Inadequate System Margin” (Nism) requesting more electricity be generated. A Nism alert has not been issued in summer months since 2008 as the warm weather means power demand is normally lower.

But the combination of a large number of power plants being shut down for maintenance, the series of unplanned shutdowns and wind power being lower than expected together forced Grid to take the unusual step.

Experts said the multiple breakdowns – believed to be primarily old coal and gas plants – showed the urgent need for more investment in reliable new power plants. National Grid said about 1,700 megawatts of capacity was unexpectedly taken off the system yesterday.

In addition, a problem forced the part closure of a National Grid-owned interconnector cable importing power from France, with the loss of another 500 megawatts.

At the same time, Britain’s wind farms generated about 500 megawatts less power than expected. National Grid issued an alert at 7pm calling for 1,500 megawatts of power plant capacity to start generating between 7pm and 9.30pm. 

National Grid said the highest price it paid to a plant to help it through the crunch was £1,250 per megawatt-hour of power. It is understood this was to E.On’s Connah’s Quay power plant.

Nism alerts used to be relatively common but had barely been used in the last few years due to a healthy surplus of power plants on the electricity grid. However, that surplus is being eroded as old coal plants are mothballed and shut.

Full DT report: Breakdowns force National Grid to issue power supply crunch alert

  1. […] Source: Breakdowns force National Grid to issue power supply crunch alert | Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  2. It’s criminal and all a direct result of EU power policy. Another good reason to brexit.

  3. Rossshire Mannie says:

    …. and why hasn’t this been “Made Public” ? I keep an eye on “Gridwatch” but missed that event

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    Scottish Sceptic:
    A major blackout in summer? That would surely propel the UK out. Too much to hope for.

  5. Don’t worry, DECC has it under control: “We are clear that delivering energy security for our families and businesses is non-negotiable and this is just part of making sure they have secure and affordable energy supplies they can rely on.” So there.

    Also Alex Chisholm has been appointed as the new Permanent Secretary at DECC. He knows nothing about energy or climate change so he will fit in well at DECC and we will be in safe hands.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Too many old power plants and too few new ones, but policies to do something about it don’t seem to exist.

  7. Rossshire Mannie says:

    Too many old MACHINES and too few new ones – this is a mindset of accountants or “no-ideas” IMO; We are not talking about “Antique aka Vintage stuff” are we? Indeed Technology moves in Leaps and Bounds – Indeed sometimes it IS Cheaper to replace completely – but can also be tax efficient to repair / -AND – AND employ more people to do the refurbishments. I am a great believer in repair rather than replacing all functional MOBILE equipment – but we do have a Taxation system that changes and doesn’t always permit this route – you may call it ‘Carrot & Stick’. Certainly build new – but ONLY before you shut down what’s there & working. Tell me – Who would sell their horse or vacate their sold house before they have a replacement?
    It can all get so TECHNICAL but this is the trouble with our Leaders aka Policy makers – THEY HAVEn’t a CLUE – studied fool time Politics etc … going random again 🙂

  8. ivan says:

    Maybe the government should divert all the renewable subsidies to building new reliable power stations or tell the subsidy farmers that there will be no more subsidies for them until such time as they have full nameplate capacity spinning reserve available to replace the shortfall from their unreliable machines.

  9. Fanakapan says:

    Probably being ‘Engineered’ by the PowerCo’s ?

    Once Fracking gets going the current market based upon scarcity could face the prospect of energy bills falling instead of rising annually ?

    With such a prospect on the horizon the rentiers will realise that they have to force the G into irrevocable taxpayer funded handouts before the landscape changes ?

  10. Rossshire Mannie says:

    Just in the passing at a late Teatime this afternoon … N O Coal-fired Electricity being produced – would be interesting to see how things pan out for the rest of the week into the “frosty as forecast weekend” .. and little wind here – Inner M Firth this now but seems to be plenty elsewhere 3.69GW 12.17% of requirements – better go check my Generators

  11. Gerry, England says:

    This has nothing to do with the EU – the UK Climate Change Act 2008 that was agreed by ALL MPs bar about 5 set ourselves on a path even more stupid than the EU. Now the EU are dithering over collapsing what remains of their economy and even using our stupid rush to cut CO2 emissions as a reason they don’t have to. Booker today in his column shows up the madness. Fracking won’t make any difference to costs as Blue Labour intend to quadruple the carbon tax rate – already higher than anyone else’s – to make gas still uneconomic. They also demand that fairytale CCS be used. If I was looking to bid for our steel industry, one look at the Fifth Carbon Budget would have me withdrawing immediately. Why bother making steel in the UK for a manufacturing industry that no longer exists and for an economy that will have collapsed taking all other construction spending with it. Voting Leave on 23 June will get rid of Cameron and Osborne and would hopefully spell the end of Blue Labour.