How UK’s wind and solar expansion could lead to wasted electricity

Posted: May 11, 2022 by oldbrew in Energy
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By lurching from feast to famine and back, surplus to deficit — depending on weather, time of day and variations in demand. Cue calls for yet more expense to fix this entirely predictable but looming problem.
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The huge growth of the UK’s solar and wind could lead to an excess amount of electricity by 2030, says Energy Live News.

That’s according to a new study that suggests a huge amount of energy could go to waste if this expansion of renewable energy sources is not paired with a similar rise in the installation of energy storage technologies.

Consultancy LCP justified its forecast on the basis that Britain’s grid operates on a supply and demand process.

That means if more energy is produced than there is demand for, huge surpluses could be wasted in 2030.

The authors of the report estimate this oversupply could take place for 53% of the year by 2030.

This possible impact could have implications for both solar and wind projects as unlike coal and nuclear, their energy production cannot be increased on command to meet demand.

In its Energy Security Strategy, the government targetted 95% low carbon electricity by the end of the decade.

Full article here.

  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    If your wind turbines are suppling 45% of their claimed capacity, and actually generating about 50% of the time, it follows that you will have surpluses. You will also have shortages during “wind droughts” such as have occurred in the year past.
    To balance this you need some way of absorbing the surplus and another way of providing reliable generation during periods of deficiency. The last is easiest with Open Cycle Gas Turbines but high in cost and CO2 emissions, which doesn’t fit with the claims for wind as cheap and emission free. And with government policy against increasing gas supplies unlikely except by expensive imports (although not from Russia). That won’t provide “cheaper electricity”.
    To absorb sudden bursts of excess generation is supposed to be either batteries, pumped storage or hydrogen production – all of which have been advanced by the simple minded and the brainwashed with no idea of reality.
    The 3 best methods of getting reliable generation are coal-fired (being shutdown by decree), nuclear (but action poor and nothing likely for 8 years) or Closed Cycle Gas Turbines. The latter are more reliable than Open Cycle types with cheaper cost per MWh and lower emissions. Unfortunately they are affected financially by stop-start operation which is why no-one has installed any plants for years.

    It would seem that the effect of muddled thoughts by the past and current governments mean that shortly Britons will be cooking and heating with wood burning and travelling by horse. (Except for jet travel to Climate Conferences for the selected).

  2. Gamecock says:

    ‘Britain is forecast to have an energy surplus for more than half of the year by 2030’

    Then everybody dies.

    ‘The huge growth of the UK’s solar and wind could lead to an excess amount of electricity by 2030.’

    Begging the question fallacy. It is not in evidence that there will be huge growth. We have only his assertion as evidence.

    ‘That’s according to a new study that suggests a huge amount of energy could go to waste’

    It will be so gal darn cheap, why would anyone care?

    ‘if this expansion of renewable energy sources is not paired with a similar rise in the installation of energy storage technologies’

    Can’t be. Storage to power UK for half a year would cost the world’s GDP for 23 years.

  3. Gamecock says:

    ‘This can be through fast-growing technologies such as battery storage’

    Fast-growing ???

    ‘longer-term storage such as pumped hydro’

    You’ll need a holding pond the size of Norway.

  4. Phoenix44 says:

    Do they even mention why we will, at times, have huge overcapacity?

  5. Chaswarnertoo says:

    Our ‘leaders’ appear insane. We will have nothing, and be happy…

  6. […] How UK’s wind and solar expansion could lead to wasted electricity […]

  7. oldbrew says:

    Constraint payments (aka ‘wasted electricity’?) are already a burden.

    Thursday, 17 February 2022
    Large volumes of wind energy are being discarded in Scotland in order to preserve grid stability…
    . . .
    Some wind farms have been discarding between 20% and 50% of their output, while being rewarded with generous constraint payments from the electricity consumer for doing so.

    Grid stability issue won’t go away, more likely the opposite.

  8. Saighdear says:

    Never mind the wasted electricity, look at this ‘hot-off-the-press’ didn’t fully understand what I saw on TV tonight:

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

    Just to put the figures into some kind of perspective – they are talking about 72TWh of wasted energy, compared with 64.46TWh of wind generation in 2021. They write

    To keep balancing and constraint costs down Balancing costs will escalate enormously, and to mitigate falling revenues for renewable generators generators are going to need massive extra subsidies or higher prices in compensation for lost revenues and, over 50GW of new demand-side flexibility from energy storage, electrolysers and interconnectors will be needed to avoid up to 72TWh of renewable power being wasted

    Of course exports, supply to electrolysers and other storage will need to be at low, even negative prices to make any money for purchasers, and it will all need massive additions to transmission capacity to deliver the power from the source to the sinks.

    Meanwhile Dunkelflaute is going to result in the need for at least 45GW of backup generation to be run at low utilisation, forcing up costs of balancing renewables in shortage as well as in surplus.

    Analysis from LCP assumes 50GW offshore wind, 25GW onshore wind, 45GW solar and 4.5GW nuclear in 2030. Peak and total demand are 67.5GW and 330TWh respectively. Historic wind, solar and demand patterns are sampled from 2006-2016 and are updated to align with expected locations and loads factors of the 2030 fleet.

    Plus all those other things to make it happen. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen a major consultancy be a little more honest about the consequences of the dash for renewables. The forecast wastage is right in line with work I did 5 years ago. At the margin a new wind farm could expect 70% of its output would be curtailed, so it would need roughly to triple it price to make revenue from the remaining 30%.

    Anyone who does serious economics on this soon finds that storage and interconnectors and all that entails are far too expensive, and it is actually cheaper simply to waste the power.

  10. oldbrew says:

    Subsea cables to deliver renewable energy from Morocco to the UK
    May 16, 2022

    Energy technology developer Octopus Energy Group has announced a partnership with Xlinks, which is building a subsea interconnector to deliver 3.6GW renewable energy from Morocco to the UK.

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