Former National Grid director says Britain should impose limits on new wind and solar farms to avoid blackouts 

Posted: August 19, 2019 by oldbrew in Energy, ideology, opinion
Tags: , ,

Image credit:

H/T The GWPF / The Sunday Telegraph

Is this really the main problem? On a windless or low-wind winter evening shortly after dark, little output can be expected from wind – and none from solar – sources. This is where the power cuts seem most likely to happen due to demand exceeding supply, if too much ‘traditional’ power generation (coal, gas, nuclear) is closed down in favour of so-called renewables, which may need renewing every 15-20 years or so. Blind pursuit of misguided climate-related ideologies ignores, or tries to play down, these issues.

Ministers should impose limits on the construction of new wind and solar farms to help avoid a nationwide blackout, according to a former director of National Grid.

Colin Gibson, who was power network director of Britain’s electricity system, claimed that some existing turbines and solar panels may have to be disconnected, and new developments restricted, to “secure” the system after major power cuts earlier this month.

In an analysis co-written by Dr Capell Aris, a former grid engineer, Mr Gibson states that the system failure revealed several “serious problems” with the operation of the national electricity network, which require an “immediate, independent, expert review”.

Their intervention comes amid a government inquiry into the outage, which occurred after the Little Barford gas-fired power station in Cambridgeshire and a major wind farm off the Yorkshire coast both temporarily stopped producing electricity.

According to the Financial Times, a provisional report by National Grid suggested that the wind farm may have tripped offline seconds before the Little Barford power station.

The blackout affected a million people in London and the South East, the Midlands, the South West, Yorkshire, the North East, Cornwall and Wales.

National Grid, the firm that operates the country’s power network, has insisted that unpredictable wind power generation was not to blame.

Full article here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    This is the way things are going…

    Virtual power plant market to be worth $4.5bn by 2024 says report

    Rising demand for electricity generation from renewable energy sources and low grid strength drive the growth of the virtual power plant market.
    – – –

    A Virtual Power Plant is a network of decentralized, medium-scale power generating units such as wind farms, solar parks, and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units, as well as flexible power consumers and storage systems. The interconnected units are dispatched through the central control room of the Virtual Power Plant but nonetheless remain independent in their operation and ownership.

    The objective of a Virtual Power Plant is to relieve the load on the grid by smartly distributing the power generated by the individual units during periods of peak load. Additionally, the combined power generation and power consumption of the networked units in the Virtual Power Plant is traded on the energy exchange.
    – – –
    Norwegian energy group launches UK virtual power plant
    Posted: March 5, 2019

  2. Dave Ward says:

    “The networked units in the Virtual Power Plant”

    Thereby putting even more of our critical infrastructure at risk of a hacking attack…

  3. oldbrew says:

    It gets worse…

    Date: 19/08/19 The Times

    Britain’s National Grid is routinely restricting the use of its own power cables from the Continent because of the risk of blackouts if they failed.

    Britain’s electricity system is sufficiently fragile at certain times of day that if one of the subsea “interconnectors” tripped while importing at full capacity, it could trigger power cuts like those of August 9.

  4. It doesn't add up... says:

    Perhaps we can add drone attacks to the list of risks following the incident at Didcot. Shorting out between different phases can produce some high voltage sparks, with the drone acting as the pathway. Do that on key transmission lines and you can generate cascading trips that will bring the whole system to its knees. The loss of a single transmission line (e.g. when a light aircraft crashes into it) is a contingency that the system can handle. A carefully coordinated attack might be a different thing altogether.

  5. ivan says:

    It would be much better if the government repealed the Climate Change Act 2008, removed all subsidies for unreliable renewable energy and remove the requirement that renewable has first preference when available, then make it a requirement that base load power has to be supplied from reliable sources (coal, nuclear). That should stabilise the grid and get realistic power prices back.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Coal has nearly gone from the UK electricity grid system, and what’s left is last in the pecking order so to speak.

  7. Gamecock says:

    ‘Ministers should impose’

    Ministers have done enough imposing already. When their autocratic meddling goes bad, they propose MORE meddling.

  8. hunterson7 says:

    What would be the optimal limitation on wind and solar to gain maximum benefit to the grid?
    How about a number as close to 0 as possible…

  9. oldbrew says:

    UK power cut: Ofgem launches probe into mass blackout after National Grid finds outage was caused by lightning strike

    The interim report said: “Two almost simultaneous unexpected power losses at Hornsea and Little Barford occurred independently of one another – but each (was) associated with the lightning strike.

    “As generation would not be expected to trip off or de-load in response to a lightning strike, this appears to represent an extremely rare and unexpected event.”
    – – –
    Hornsea went off first according to a TV report, but BBC shows a graphic with Barford going off first, 2 minutes before Hornsea. This can’t be right as the same lightning strike is supposed to have caused both outages.

  10. It doesn't add up... says:

    We have the interim report

    Looks like my amateur sleuthing was pretty much spot on.

    At 16:52:33 on Friday there were a number of lightning strikes on the transmission network north of London. This triggered the transmission line protection to disconnect and clear the disturbance (in c.70milliseconds) plus initiate its subsequent reconnection (automatically after c.20 seconds). This operated as normal and the voltage disturbance on the network from the lightning was within expected limits for such an event.
    As would be expected in such circumstances there was the loss of some small embedded distributed generation (totalling ~500MW) associated with the transient voltage disturbance caused by the lightning.
    Almost simultaneously, and unexpectedly, two large transmission connected generators reduced their output onto the system.

    Power Loss
    • The lightning strike and rapid frequency fall caused the loss of ~500MW of Distribution connected generation, likely to be solar and some small gas and diesel fired generation, due to the operation of the generation sources own protection systems (Loss of Mains Protectioni)
    • Hornsea One offshore wind immediately lost Hornsea modules 2 and 3, totalling 737MW. Module 1 continued to operate smoothly at 50MW throughout the event.
    • Little Barford Gas Power Station – near immediate loss of the Steam Turbine unit (244MW) and then, as a result of the loss of the steam unit, loss of the two Gas Turbine units (total station loss of 641MW) over the following 90 seconds.

    I even finally got the BBC to amend their diagram showing the Hornsea outage at 17:00 to show 16:52 – just 9 days after I first complained to them about it.

  11. oldbrew says:

    I even finally got the BBC to amend their diagram showing the Hornsea outage at 17:00 to show 16:52 – just 9 days after I first complained to them about it.

    Good one. That’s probably quite quick for the BBC, but they can’t argue with the official report 😎

    How long before the BBC and all the rest claim that man-made global warming is making lightning strikes worse? Or are we feeding them ideas 😆

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