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That glorious (and dark) renewables future

UK wind farms have a theoretical maximum capacity of more than 13,000 megawatts, but produced less than 400 megawatts of power for much of the peak demand period – meeting less than one per cent of the UK’s electricity needs, published data suggests.

Britain’s 8,000 megawatts of solar panel capacity would also have produced no power during the peak, because it was dark at the time.

Gas, coal and nuclear provided all (well, 99.5%) the country’s energy.

That we’ll power everything by renewables isn’t looking all that likely, is it?

32 thoughts on “That glorious (and dark) renewables future”

  1. We would have better luck developing unconventional geothermal.

    However, unconventional geothermal requires fracking. Which explains why the environmentalist do not like it.

  2. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Petrol has about 11 times the energy density of TNT. Natural gas is even higher. Coal is about eight times. Fossil fuels are really quite amazing things.

    Of course the energy density of nuclear is even higher, but the plants are rather expensive.

  3. No, you WILL have renewables and only have the energy we deign to provide you with. Cold dark winters, SUCK IT UP People, you don’t know it but you “voted” for this. Anyway, it’s good for you, because we say so.

  4. The gridwatch site is always worth a look:

    Last night wind supplied less than 1% of demand, and this morning its less than 3%, with lots of lovely gas making up the shortfall.

    Also, if anyone mentions Germany as an example (lots more wind, no nuclear) again can someone please tell them about Germany’s heavy reliance on the French grid (mainly nuclear) and their new coal power stations?

  5. Bloke in North Dorset


    Thanks, that’s a good fisking. Going back to yesterday’s discussion on Twitter that is exactly what you can’t do with Twitter, which I suppose is why SJWs prefer using it rather than engaging in debate through mediums that allow more discussion.

  6. BiND,

    Indeed, I got the impression Twitter is a platform which allows somebody to come in, yell out a barely coherent sentence, and then run off before anyone can reply.

  7. TimN, no, it works for replies as well. Which is why there’s so little point in trying to argue any vaguely controversial point.

    Abuse seems to have an energy density greater than constructive debate. Hey, is that why the WGCE’s responses to comments get shorter over time?

    Works OK as a link exchange, though. Speaking of which, thanks for yours, chap added to reader.

  8. If you look at satellite imagery of the Courageous State (North of the 38th parallel on the Korean peninsula) you will see the future of power generation if the Greens have their way – a dark patch with a handful of small lights (There would be a blazing pinprick in Downham Market no doubt)in a sea of light. In fact assuming there is an independent Scotland run by the SNP you won’t have to wait very long for such a state to be just North of the English border….

  9. We had over an hours power cut yesterday between 4 and 5pm.

    The electric supply here has become increasingly erratic too, with frequent blips of off and on again, as evidenced by my mains bedside clock that resets itself every time the power goes off, even for a second.

    Is this all related to the grid problems?

  10. Does anyone know what sized generator you need to buy to keep the average house functional?

    Maybe now is the time to invest.

  11. I was told several years ago that in a discussion about energy policy members and officials of the last Labour government were surprised to learn that you can’t “just store” generated electricity.

  12. Here in the US, solar looks a bit better because it is sunnier. Obviously, that means more effective solar panels. Less obviously but more importantly, that means that peak energy demand, most places, most times, is early afternoon when all the air conditioning is running full-out; and just when the panels make the most juice.

  13. ‘Indeed, I got the impression Twitter is a platform which allows somebody to come in, yell out a barely coherent sentence, and then run off before anyone can reply.’

    I’d been trying to sum up for myself the problem with twitter, and this gets close to it. Couple with the ‘follow’ function, which means that any reply is easily drowned out in a welter of supportive comments from fellow travellers.

  14. @salamander

    “Does anyone know what sized generator you need to buy to keep the average house functional?”

    There are many factors of course such as type of heating and cooking appliances (gas kit needs little power to operate, electric needs bucketloads). I’d imagine a medium sized generator (2kw/£500 or so) would keep most places going during the average power cut, just don’t try and use an electric shower, boil the kettle or run a fan heater.

  15. Rhyds,

    that sounds about right. I reckon we average 1KW over the day, with both CH/HW on gas so not skewing that figure.

    Could probably cut that a lot by turning PC off when we’re not using it…

    Basically you need baseload 1KW to keep your fridge and freezer running, so 2KW would allow you to run a kettle on top of that.

  16. Pedant-General,

    Sure, but who wants to live like that? If it is only for brief emergencies, fine. But here–in allegedly the richest county in the US–power sometimes goes out for days. That is rare, but you can expect a couple hours a year at least.

    Then consider a 20 kW NG generator, more expensive upfront, but–if anything–lower operating costs due to higher efficiency. Costs about $5k here. That is about the maximum you can do air cooled. After that you need liquid, which means lots more money and maintenance.

  17. TP-G:

    A kettle might well be 2kW on its own.

    Fridges and freezers often impose a heavy load for a few seconds when they start up. If the generator sags when this happens, they can fail to start at all. This will damage the appliance.

    I’ve used a 2.2kVA generator during power failures, but was very careful about trying to run things like freezers. If the failure’s only a few hours you might as well leave them unpowered.

  18. BraveFart

    Sorry! You have my sympathy – It’s a sad end for a country responsible for so much greatness over the years – but I think a couple of commentators here have called me out over comparisons with either Belarus or North Korea – pointing out an independent Scotland would lack the resources of Belarus and given the quality of the SNP MPs (Look at that appalling 20 year old creature from Glasgow – surely the clinching argument for the repeal of the 1918 Representation of The Peoples Act) and (arguably even more so) MSPs many contemporary Scots would seem to be far less educated than North Korea. It’s a grim picture to be sure!

  19. Well, I wasn’t expecting it to happen this early in the year – waiting for a nice cold spell like December 2010 !
    But there is one thing that really, really needs pointing out (and I’ll be writing to my MP to ask him to point it out) to her …

    “Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow energy secretary, blamed Government policy …”
    Err Lisa, don’t forget that YOUR labour Government had 13 years in power to sort this mess out, the warnings were clear that this day was coming, but YOUR government did SFA about it. If YOUR government hadn’t been so blind as to see the green policies for the complete and utter bull manure they are, then we wouldn’t be in this mess now.

    For those of you who have Labour MPs who were part of the last Labour Government who left us in this state – please write to them and thank them for foooking over our energy supplies as well as the economy !
    Yes it’s true that the Conservatives before them also kicked the nuclear ball down the road, but that’s no excuse for the Labour government not to have acted.

  20. Intractable Potsherd

    Regarding Scotland – before moving up the Scotland a few years ago, we lived in the English Midlands. Just before we moved, the local council decided to turn off most of the street lights at midnight – in the winter – despite a great deal of people being quite vocal against being moved to third-world status. At least here in Scotland, there a plenty of street lights (many of which stay on 24 hours a day!). Personally, I’d be more worried about England having the blackouts, not Scotland.

  21. We had a couple of voltage drops here (rural Suffolk) yesterday evening, even though we’re pretty well connected to Sizewell B. Apparently there was some scheduled load shedding around that time.

    I’ve had a 4kVA diesel generator for about 30 years from the time when our local bit of string kept breaking regularly. For many years now it’s been much more solid but I’ll make sure the genny is in good order for the winter just in case…

  22. “At least here in Scotland, there a plenty of street lights (many of which stay on 24 hours a day!). Personally, I’d be more worried about England having the blackouts, not Scotland.”

    I wonder if there might be a contradiction lurking here.
    “Blackout” in this context refers to being unable keep lights going because you aren’t able to generate the power, doesn’t it? (Perhaps also as the result of accident or disaster, but never mind those.) It isn’t the same as deciding to switch off lights you could keep going.

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