On Monday, National Grid came within a whisker of activating its emergency blackout plan for the first time this winter as low wind speeds and nuclear outages push supplies close to the edge.
Because soon enough we’re going to be past that whisker, aren’t we?
If there isn’t enough fuel to fire up the country’s gas-fired power plants and the UK cannot import power from the Continent, as it has increasingly done in recent years, then we face the prospect of rolling blackouts, a risible situation for the world’s sixth largest economy to find itself in.
Could these clowns please tell us exactly how many wind turbines we need to build to supply base load when the wind isn’t blowing?
It’s only when we get rolling blackouts and people suddenly realise that they need power for heating their homes, that people are going to wake up to the ridiculousness of the green con.
I’m getting worried they won’t. Some people seem to be so brainwashed they might see power cuts as a sign that the green gods need more sacrifices.
Some of the younger people I know won’t make even the most trivial decision without agonising over the ‘climate impact’ of it. It’s frightening to watch.
What causes a nuclear outage? A disturbance in the force? Cheap Chinese neutrons? Climate change?
A propos your previous piece sperm donors should be made to provide details of who they are to ensure donees can avoid Tory MPs who seem inveterate wankers.
@RlJ: “What causes a nuclear outage?”
French engineering (or lack of). It’s the French nuclear power stations being offline so not able to feed us via the interconnectors.
It would be a salutary lesson to the ecomorons if we had rolling blackouts. Except the lesson will not be learnt. We’ll blame the National Grid, greedy capitalist fossil fuel providers, etc. Round up the usual suspects.
At this moment gas is producing 61% of our electricity, wind 8%. Wind hit a record of 53% of demand on a low demand day in November.
So gas is the swing producer. If there isn’t enough gas, supply will be rationed first to industrial consumers and then households. Serve us right for not fracking.
Put another cucumber on the moonbeam, Mabel!
Seen a fair few of these things on the back of lorries and trailers, recently;
Think the last time was around 2003/4 or so.
Why are LNG tankers just sitting off your coast?
‘Cos the infrastructure to unload them is at capacity. Nothing to do with profiteering.
Strange thing is, we’ve been here before. C18th. Theoretically, the steam engine wasn’t necessary for the Industrial Revolution. The thing it produced was a rotary power source. That was already available. Windmills & water wheels. Renewables! Had already been used for industrial applications for centuries. Not just flour milling but wood & stone sawing, pumping. Given a rotating shaft, you can stick anything on the end of it. So why didn’t it kick off an industrial revolution earlier? Reliability of supply. If the wind doesn’t blow, the factory doesn’t go.
@ Addolff: Could these clowns please tell us exactly how many wind turbines we need to build to supply base load when the wind isn’t blowing?
They won’t, for the simple reason that a) we’re using lecky wrong, and b) some magic hand-waving will deal with it – usually “grid scale storage” as if that’s both practical and affordable (c.f reports about another “big” battery coming online that can supply about 1% of UK demand for an hour or two, at a massive cost).
And that is the primary reason for forcing so called “smart” meters on people. They are not smart in any sense, but what they do have is the power to ration usage – firstly by pricing, and if that’s not enough, by turning people off remotely (every “smart” meter has a remotely controlled switch in it) like we had in the 70s.
Glad I bought a big gennie a few months ago……..coupled with my log burner its going to be a warm and brightly lit winter here 🙂
And of course, energy density. There’s so little in wind, you need unreasonably large structures to extract what’s required. So uneconomic. Ring any bells?
Arthur et Roue
C’est les neutrons Francaise. Ils travaillent seuelement 35 heures per semaine.
“And that is the primary reason for forcing so called “smart” meters on people. They are not smart in any sense, but what they do have is the power to ration usage – firstly by pricing, and if that’s not enough, by turning people off remotely (every “smart” meter has a remotely controlled switch in it) like we had in the 70s.”
They can also switch you from a credit account to a pre payment system in an instant. So forcing people without the requisite amount of cash at hand to not use electric is another way they can ration it.
National Grid ultimately decided it did not need to enlist households to curb demand after Britain secured enough orders for tomorrow evening from France, which in turn is importing more power from elsewhere
We’re relying on the French now.
BiS – Theoretically, the steam engine wasn’t necessary for the Industrial Revolution
Theoretically, the Romans, Greeks or Persians could’ve kicked off the industrial revolution. They never even came close tho.
Which is why technological or any other kind of progress isn’t inevitable. The social, cultural, legal and economic systems that gave birth to the industrial revolution no longer exist in the West. If the car was invented tomorrow, it’d be illegal by Friday.
~”the world’s sixth largest economy”
When he sees this, Dan Hannan responds by saying something like “the journalist clearly thinks that Denmark is a relatively poor country and Monaco is in absolute poverty”. Which I find amusing.
Here in Ireland, the government / state is saturating the airwaves and sending glossy brochures about the increasing energy prices, options to not use electricity (including the caveat that granny should remain warm), all the while blaming the war in Ukraine. They have been delaying any new power stations for years and recently shut down a turf powered power station
In September ’22 the UK was the world’s fifth largest economy. Maybe last week it swapped places with India? The two countries are so similar, aren’t they? Couldn’t put a fag paper between them
Theoretically, the Romans, Greeks or Persians could’ve kicked off the industrial revolution. They never even came close tho.
Slave owning societies don’t innovate. Which, by a remarkable coincidence, is also true of communist societies.
We even both regard the cow as a sacred animal. Although, personally, I’ve always preferred to do my worshipping in restaurants er by a flaming pyre in the garden.
Roue – Yarp, but it raises the question of how we ever escaped slavery/serfdom, which was and remains one of the most successful and enduring models of social and economic organisation in human history.
Which brings us to a number of seemingly unrelated thingies, from the Black Death to the Protestant Reformation, which were also not historically inevitable and could’ve easily gone the other way.
It’s a bit of a lucky accident that England found itself with both the textbook (since the industrial revolution only happened once, of course it’s textbook) use case for steam engines, and an abundance (but not an overabundance) of easily mined coal, and a shortage of wood, and a class of gentleman scientist-entrepreneurs, and the excess wealth required for investment, and the legal certainty required to protect investments, etc…
I’ve read a theory that it hinges on Henry VIII not having a boy and wanting to ditch his wife. In order to appropriate the monastries and sell them off, he had to put legal protections in place to assure the buyers he wouldn’t then also appropriate the stuff again from them. That then forming the core basic of protection of private wealth. Before then, anybody with a money-making idea was likely to have it taken off him.
I’d guess it’s the Protestant Reformation is the important factor. It encouraged the belief that the individual succeeds or fails by their own efforts. Which is a big leap away from notions of divine intervention, pre-destiny, luck, fortune, whatever. It suggests that there is only cause & effect. And that’s the key to understanding how the world really works.
It’s at the centre of the scientific method. That the experiment is repeatable. Independent of the experimenter or the observer
“It’s a bit of a lucky accident that England found itself …”
Manifest destiny and the sheer awfulness of Johnny Foreigner, old boy.
BiS “Given a rotating shaft, you can stick anything on the end of it. So why didn’t it kick off an industrial revolution earlier? ”
Windmills did.. In Clogland.. The rest of Europe then picked up on the idea.
And the windmills weren’t even a new invention. It was the dutch (re)invention ( and construction) of the crankshaft added to those windmills wot did it in the early 16thC. Made those sawmills that allowed us to build standardised ships at volume possible…
Rotary power is easy.. It’s converting that into the movement you need that’s pretty tricky. Still is a specific field of engineering…
And up until the invention of the steam engine it was either wind ( may or may not be there in quantities you need..) or man/animal power ( limited and expensive ) that gave that rotary power.
The steam engine gave us a source of rotary power that could produce 24/7 at specified levels at will, and at torques/speeds that were previously impossible.
That ( and improvements in ironworking that allowed replacement of wood parts with much stronger iron..) is what drove the Industrial Revolution.
Most of the conversion methods into Work were already there, at least as a concept, but simply not reliable/feasible/economic to do.
at torques/speeds that were previously impossible.
Can’t see that would be a factor. Torque/speed depend on the energy input & the ratio of the gearing (cog or belt/pulley). Windmills certainly would have more torque than early steam engines (subject to the size of aerofoils of course)
It’s intermittency’s the problem. They could cope with that with the industries wind/water powered. When required low skill labour. A factory, you’re going to have a large labour force standing around idle every time you lose power. Much of it semi-sKilled or skilled.
“Which is a big leap away from notions of divine intervention, pre-destiny,….”
Calvin would like a word.
BiS: the first steam engines were actually used for reciprocating motion, pumping water out of Cornish mines. The thing that made them really useful was James Watt’s improvements to the thermodynamic cycle.
“slavery/serfdom, which was and remains one of the most successful and enduring models of social and economic organisation in human history.”
Serfdom not slavery, Steve. Slavery requires labour to keep the slaves in order. Serfdom (sharecropping is a variant) allows the serf to be self motivated, having access to private and common land and resources in exchange for surrendering a part of the crop, paying tithes to preserve his soul etc, so making a saving on supervision.
My grandfather had a water mill. The stream was not strong enough or reliable enough, despite the relatively efficient overshot wheel. So he’d grind corn for an hour or two, shut the sluice gate and take an hour or three off before starting again. Installing a diesel engine meant he had an uninterrupted night’s sleep for the first time in his adult life.
Torque was (and still is ) a problem for wind/watermills. Low RPM ( somewhere between 10-20 rpm for Classic Cloggie Contraptions..) , so for quite a few applications things needed to be geared up, not down. With the obvious torque/power problems resulting from that..
To the point that for restoration projects here in Clogland they have to cheat.. The wood with the necessary density to make the axles simply isn’t around anymore. They use steel covered in wood for aesthetics for the main shafts.
The steam engine, even the earliest ones, had much higher RPM’s, so they could be geared down.
Which, in combination with the ffing huge flywheels to store energy and smoothe things out, made life a lot easier in designing stuff to do Things.
@BiS: the industrial revolution did start with water power. That’s why many of the early cloth mills were on the edge of the Pennines and around the moors in the English South West. When coal became cheap enough the Pennines mills had good access to it and converted while the SW mills closed.
They used to teach this stuff in school, you know.
And of course the importance of steam engines was their portability. It meant power was available anywhere there was a flat space and where fuel could be transported to it and stored.
but then the wind and water are free…
Economically a slave is a cost to the owner, because they have to be housed and fed and so on. A serf pays the Lord for the right to grow their own crops on the lord’s land.
Also English contract law based on common law was far more geared to protecting fair business practice than Continental Roman ( later Napoleonic ) Law .
The wind is always blowing somewhere so the windpower production is never*quite* zero.
Based on data for 2021 the answer is one Thousand, three hundred times as many windmills as we had in 2021 (assuming that we still have the same amount of nuclear power for baseload)/
As I have said before, that would burn out the grid when the wind was blowing.
“but then the wind and water are free…”
Dunno about wind, but I’m pretty damned sure Landowners of Old charged for the commercial use of water, directly or indirectly… Permits, taxes, etc..
Come to think of it.. wind as well.. Same mechanism.
So wind and water have never been “free”.
How come the UK has undertaken to the Paddys that in an emergency we’ll supply power to keep their lights on?
These fvckers are no friends of us at all, we should be using it as leverage and sending the memo and the bill to the head creepy sleepy Paddy in the White House.
“but then the wind and water are free…”
But Grikath old chap, that is what people like Ed Davey and Caroline Lucas constantly tell us so it MUST be true.
I miscapitalised earlier. A serf doesn’t pay the Lord ( unless sacrificing something ) but of course a lord. I’d like to apologise to the Lord and lords everywhere.
More wind (or other intermittent) power helps reduce the risk of blackouts by reducing the total amount of gas consumed. As long as we have enough gas generation capacity to cover periods of complete lack of intermittent sources, the limit is then whether we have enough gas to fuel them.
The problem of gas with intermittent sources is not risk of blackouts – it’s the expense of keeping all that gas generating capacity available when it is not actually generating.
If you back to my original comment, that was exactly my point.
They used to teach observation in schools as well. But maybe not the public ones.
Charles: “The problem of gas with intermittent sources is not risk of blackouts – it’s the expense of keeping all that gas generating capacity available when it is not actually generating.”
And that wouldn’t apply to those “intermittent sources”?
I have this bridge for sale here… You might be interested…
@BiS: you said, of water power, “So why didn’t it kick off an industrial revolution earlier?”
I said that it did. I am right.
Indeed yes, early factories indeed used water power. Arkwright made water powered spinning frames and of course the famous Rotating Rosalind (© B Elton)
recently shut down a turf powered power station
Put it out to grass?
Just a typo. It wasn’t a turf fired power station that got shut down, it was a TERF fired one. Now the bogtrotter trannies are upset, and their ululations will empower us all.
Of course in the long term nothing is free. You have a few million heartbeats and you die. But the current legislation is that the wind above your land is “free at the point of use” so you can rent to some spivs in the green economy. The resources under your land, however, belong to the Crown, so getting a share of any O&G is much more complicated. That’s why USA has lots of onshore and we have… Wytch Farm.
It’s actually rather paradoxical. You’d think the government /Crown would prioritise underground extraction that they own above overground exploitation that they don’t.
But then expecting government to act in its own interest, let alone ours, is a pipedream.
It didn’t kick off an industrial revolution. It was industrialisation that wasn’t going anywhere. Intermittancy. With water it’s vulnerable to winter freezes & summer droughts. And there just isn’t enough running water to power what’s required. You need a head of water between each mill. The energy in a river isn’t infinite. Take out enough you’ve a long pond. The intermittancy problem with windmills we know about.
The net result is you’re not going anywhere. You can only industrialise so far. You can’t get an economic return on factories are idle a large percentage of the time. They don’t pay for the investment required. Where the country will be headed in due course. Green makes you broke.
We’ve just done a dry run on it. Shut down part of the economy for 3 months. And look at the mess it’s in. In a net zero world printing money won’t help. That moves wealth through time & there won’t be a future to move it from. Everyone will get a lot poorer. 25%? 50% More?
A thought on eVs: seems to be almost 2m of them in UK, with battery capacity of 90kWh average, and taking around 7 hours to charge if going from empty to full charge.
If they all needed a charge every night at 6pm, that’s about 25GW of power being drawn from the grid. Not realistic, but I’m prepared to believe that more than 10% of the UK eV fleet are being charged at 6pm.
That’s about 2.5 GW or 2.5 nukes of capacity that we may not have if the wind isn’t blowing.
The number of eVs cannot increase unless we are to have a system where you may only charge your eV when there’s excess wind. Imv of course. And the idiots in charge think they can fix climate change by banning new petrol cars.
‘If the car was invented tomorrow, it’d be illegal by Friday.’
You’ll have noted that nukes were developed about 70 odd years ago. They’re still stifled by red tape, and the campaigns to shut them down are well financed and supported. And frequently successful.
25GW might not be unrealistic when all cars are electrified. Current generation capacity is under 40GW so that’s a big extra chunk to be found.
It might be simpler to build two or even three national grids. One for recusant (realists) one for Gaia (pure renewables) and one for the Cucumber deity.
BiS and dearieme
You are at crossed porpoises here.
Arkwright ( for instance ) has developed a machine to do a job more efficiently.
He needs to power it, but all Arkwright requires is a rotating beam. It is immaterial to him how it is driven.
Mr Bloggs has access to a regular and reliable water supply and uses that.
Mr Ostlethwaite doesn’t have a water source, but he’s heard of a Scottish firm called Steam Engines rUs who provide a power source where wood or coal are the fuel. He sits near a coal mine owned by Lord Ponsonby, who in turn has engaged an engineer to build a canal to connect to the nearest navigable river.
Someone has a requrement, someone clever has a solution, someone else can provide the means.
See also canals, railways, aircraft, automobiles ( electric and oil driven ), the Colossus computer…
According to The Survival Handbook, the law (pronounced lore) in the UK says that removing water from a waterway requires a permit and there will be a cost, even if the water is immediately returned to the waterway.
It has been called suicide by sanctions. Vlad has lots of gas that he wants to sell. All that the UK and the other neo-Nazi supporters have to do is to ask nicely, and promise to pay in dollars. But of course they won’t, because suicide is the only face-saving option.
@Grikath – “And that wouldn’t apply to those “intermittent sources”?”
No. A gas generator can be run continuously or intermittently, so when it is run intermittently it costs more. An intermittent source doesn’t cost more when it is intermittent because it’s always that expensive.