Friday, 3 June 2011


“Wired&Teary” over at Outdoors Magic has provided a link to a document written in June 2009 by National Grid, entitled “Operating the Electricity Transmission Networks in 2020”

I quote:

Why has National Grid published this document?
National Grid operates the transmission networks across Great Britain under the terms of its Transmission Licence. This licence stipulates that we should operate the transmission networks in an efficient, economic and co-ordinated manner.
In meeting this obligation we need to be aware of the technical characteristics and capabilities of electricity generation and demand.

We must also make assumptions regarding the future behaviour of energy market participants and how this will impact on the way the transmission networks can be operated. These assumptions are relevant to other stakeholders and many of them are relevant to any assessment of security of energy supply. The location, type and size of generators connected to the transmission networks has started to change as have patterns of consumer demand. The pace and magnitude of this change will grow as emission and renewable energy targets are met. At National Grid we believe that we need to develop a plan in order to deliver these changes effectively.

This document has therefore been published at this time to set out and seek views on:
Our assessment of the technical challenges presented to us in our role in operating the networks and as 'residual balancer';
Our thoughts on how these challenges could be met; and
Our assumptions regarding how energy market participants will respond to events in operational timescales.



Operatingin2020Consulation1Page 1

Operatingin2020Consulation1Page 2

Operatingin2020Consulation1Page 3

So – What I believe this means is that National Grid, saddled with the expected production of wind energy and the expected reduction in nuclear (ageing  reactors and the new ones no-where near ready) are expecting to plug the gap when the wind doesn’t blow with electricity produced in France by nuclear power, asking industry to turn off their machines, asking households to do their laundry at night and….. Power Cuts.


And to get it from the horse’s mouth listen to the Chief Executive, National Grid on the BBC Today Programme on Radio 4, in March of this year, to hear that we are going to use power “when it is available to us.”


  1. Dark times ahead indeed.

    I think there's yet another unexplored angle to the story.

    It has been pointed out that the three nations that have needed a bailout, Ireland, Greece and Portugal, made colossal (relative to their economies) investments in 'green' energy, notably wind. The Portuguese Prime Minister, in particular, was environment minister for 3 years and pushed through several measures that landed Portugal with very high electricity prices. Greece too in the last couple of years has invested very heavily in wind.

    I suspect misguided energy policies did play a non-insignificant part in those countries financial collapse.

    Are we going to be the next casualty?

    Note the irony here: China has a monopoly on rare earth minerals of the kind required to build turbines; they are also investing widely in new generation nuclear. Their economy is very unstable, all things considered. But they may get the upper hand on the energy front, given the EU's mad policies on the environment.

    Lastly, the pro-wind guys are always very keen to condemn their opponents for environmental insensitivity. The EU obsession with biofuels has been estimated to have cost 2/300,000 deaths because of the hike in food prices that resulted from that. And their obsession with biomass is causing massive deforestation already.

    Who's the real villain of the piece then?

  2. Incidentally, debate is good, of course. But it is legitimate to wonder about the provenance of folks like Wired&Teary suddenly appearing as self-declared experts on the OM forum.

    Could he be part of this nice organisation:

    There are lots of things to say about the pro-wind tactics but a couple really stand out. First, they accuse anti-wind of being emotive and scare-mongering. Well, for the past ten years we've been saying it all along we'd need wind turbines on most hills to give wind a semblance of credibility. We were accused of scare-mongering then. Look where we are now. Your average Scottish local authority is inundated with applications to exploit the crazy feed-in tariff. And in my area we're going to have wind turbines on nearly every prominent hill.

    Then we're told we always repeat the same tired old things about intermittency. Well, we do because no-one is listening. The fact that it's old hat doesn't mean it isn't true. We've been told about the fabled interconnector for years but the reality is, it isn't here yet and it never will, there just is not enough spare capacity in hydro to keep us all going.

    That's why we'll have to live with huge restrictions on our usage, but of course the government cannot wait to be able to control our lives down to how often we put the kettle on.

    Think about it. They tried it with terrorism, they tried it with the cold war, but now they're finally found a way to bleed us dry of money and freedom.

    The energy crisis has been manufactured for political ends. As I've already said, it's not just about the hills. Although of course one must concentrate on saving whatever we can save of our hills.

    Given the two recent fires at the oil refinery and the oil depot, I'm also beginning to wonder about MI5 getting involved in all this.

    Conspiracy theories gone wild? I hope so, but you do have to wonder.

    Look at what is being proposed: smart meters to control centrally which appliances we can use and when; satellite tracking for cars to control how many miles we drive, where and when.

    That's why I find Wurz and this W&T so creepy.

    Or maybe I've been watching too many episodes of the Shadow Line on the BBC iplayer!

  3. Whoa Andy!

    I was with you up until the oil refinery stuff...

    Let's not get into realms of paranoia! Although I do understand why...

    Reminds me of an old joke... "They're all jealous of me, because I've conquered my paranoia"

  4. You're right, Alan. I don't believe it myself for a second. And still I was just wondering. Why it should happen within the space of two days. Just a coincidence, I suppose.

    I didn't go on with my list of pro-wind myths, and I'd better not anyway, I'm taking up too much space on your blog as it is, but the best line they seem to peddle these days is: all forms of energy production are subsidised, look at nuclear.

    True, but what they miss is: a) nuclear works, wind doesn't; b) nuclear doesn't get the ridiculous feed-in tariff system that robs the poor for the benefit of the rich.

    Never mind, I'm off to the hills next week to take a last look at those areas which are going to be swamped by wind plants soon enough (the Fannaichs, as it happens).

  5. I promised I'd be quiet, but as I was whiling away my Saturday afternoon, I saw another instance of scare-mongering by the likes of Wurz.

    He'd posted a thread on this very topic on OM and he's often referred to it in other threads.

    It's shale gas.

    One of the favourite lines of the pro-wind mob is that wind is not a finite resource (well, that's hyperbole, because the earth has a finite lifespan anyway, and in any case they always conveniently forget that turbines are manufactured out of 'finite' resources, and are much more resource-intensive than conventional power stations). This is then contrasted with finite supplies of fossil fuel.

    The fact of course is that there are huge reserves of oil, coal and gas that would keep us going for centuries, but hey, they're drama queens, and drama queens don't let facts get in the way of rhetoric. Even Monbiot has recently admitted that we still have more fossil fuel that we know what to do with.

    Now, one of the exciting stories of recent years is shale gas. It's going to make available very cheap and plentiful supplies of gas.

    And that of course pisses the pro-wind guys off (there goes their pension, you see. Just think about it: what other form of energy production can guarantee contractors not just building one power station and then be done with it, but hundreds of power stations all over the country?)

    So, they resort to their favourite scare-mongering tactics, and much publicity has been given to the film 'Gasland' about Americans setting fire to their water taps after drilling for shale gas in the vicinity.

    Well, one more myth has been debunked. The area where the film was shot has had this 'feature' for years, since at least 1936. The contamination of the water supply had been going on well before they started drilling for shale gas.

    Will Wurz apologise for misleading yet again? You bet he won't.

    Some details on this video:


    {note the 'excuse' by the director: those facts were irrelevant!]

  6. Thanks, Alan. I think we all need to look into back up generators and energy storage. Within ten years power cuts will be common place.

  7. Andy says: "Well, one more myth has been debunked. The area where the film was shot has had this 'feature' for years, since at least 1936. The contamination of the water supply had been going on well before they started drilling for shale gas.
    Never let facts get in the way of a good story, eh?

    Robin: I honestly believe that pressure from our larger energy intensive industries will finally put a stop to this obscene rush to wind; with huge hikes in energy costs associated with going with wind, they will not be able to compete on a global market and are already threatening to pull out of UK production.

  8. Yes, Alan, I think you may be right: economic arguments are the ones which normally decide the reality nowadays. The time may come - and soon - when folk in the UK are being told by the energy ideologues to only have a shower when the wind's blowing. Those people look around at the Poles, with their new, cheap, efficient shale gas, showers and cups of tea 24/7, and ask 'What on earth is going on?' There will be no choice for even our head-in-the-sand politicians but to change their ways.

    If it comes to this, it will cast Alex 'Magnificent Wind' Salmond and his cronies in a very poor light. My own interpretation is that the man has set his stall on a place in history as Scotland's Saviour (capital letter intended). In fact, he is more likely to destroy the place. He will leave Scotland cluttered with industrial junk on its hills, producing expensive, intermittent electricity, while other countries reap the benefits of new technology and cheap energy, with their economies reaping the benefit likewise. A lot of Scots have been suckered by believing in this guy. Very naive.

  9. Ian, I think you are thinking of the Tom Johnstone of Wind. Johnstone was the politician who pushed through the Hydro despite the fact that one coal powered power station would have provided the same output for a fraction of the cost. Like wind it was based on false promises like free electricity for all those living in the Highlands. In fact only half the projected hydro stations were built as Gerard Nabaro and the National Coal Board managed to persuade parliament; there was only one then; that to build more would damage our coal industry and put thousands out of work. Also the landowners found many of the promises hollow. A matter of interest is that despite Hydro being trumpeted as Scotlands finest resource, until recently 60%of Scottish power was Nuclear. As Tom Johnstone is remembered by his Hydro, Alex Salmond wants to be remebered for Wind. Both men are/were consumate politicians with great ambition. Hydro is also a less than reliable resource with most experts saying that it is only available 30% of the year. There is no such thing as a free lunch!


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