By Paul Homewood
Britain’s energy system is getting close to critical status, with the current spell of cold weather.
With demand close to 50GW, coal power is running flat out. There is still about 10GW of CCGT capacity available, but only thanks to wind still providing a similar amount. Unusually for such cold weather, it has been pretty windy this week, particularly with Storm Emma knocking on the door.
These figures would suggest wind power is currently running at about 70% of capacity, but this won’t be maintained with quieter weather forecast from Saturday into next week.
What happens when that coal capacity is finally shut down is anybody’s guess.
The French I/C is also running at full blast, with France itself generating at near to full capacity:
But it is not only the power grid that is creaking. Supplies of natural gas are also at critical levels. This morning the National Grid released this news:
On the face of it, we could not increase CCGT generation if we wanted to, as there is no gas spare.
These problems have re-ignited calls to get on with fracking. Proactive Investors report:
Dramatic weather hitting the United Kingdom is providing ammunition for the proponents of the embryonic shale gas industry.
It has sparked calls for the UK to seize the shale opportunity which promises to be a significant domestic source of gas which would reduce the country’s dependence upon foreign imports.
“The UK is worryingly dependent on gas imports and this is forecast to increase to 80% by 2035,” said Ken Cronin, chief executive of industry group UK Onshore Oil and Gas.
Cronin added: “Given that nearly 50% of our electricity is produced by gas and 84% of our homes are heated with it, the need to ensure we have our own homegrown source of gas rather than pursuing this continued over-reliance on imports has today become very evident.
“We believe that the right way forward is to produce British natural gas from shale onshore and we are working hard to achieve this goal.”
Firms such as Cuadrilla, IGas Energy and Third Energy are at the forefront of Britain’s shale gas industry and new projects are lined up for 2018 and 2019, but, progress has been slow – at least partially due to local politics and permitting issues.
Platts report that the GMB union want to push on with fracking as well:
The GMB union urged the UK government to urgently review its energy policy.
“When National Grid issues a worrying gas warning like this you know things are serious,” Stuart Fegan, GMB National Officer for Energy, said.
“Our government needs to wake up to the reality that an urgent inquiry in costly gas price hikes caused by interrupted supply is needed. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy needs to get off the fence with numerous planning applications it is presiding over and help the UK onshore gas industry establish itself to support our energy security,” Fegan said.
The UK relies on imports for more than half of its gas, mainly from Europe which is itself suffering from extreme cold and shortage of gas.
The Wind Europe lobbying website shows how windy it was yesterday, with loading of 43% and 78% for onshore and offshore wind respectively across Europe. This equates to about 71GW.
71GW is close to the record set last year, and is in no way sustainable.
As we saw during winter months last year, wind output often dropped to below 40GW.
To increasingly rely on imported gas and electricity, as the government plans, is taking unacceptable risks with our energy security.
There are two obvious steps we should be taking now:
1) Abandon all plans to phase out coal power stations, until we have something else to replace them.
2) Get fracking
via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
March 1, 2018 at 01:24PM