Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Another climate bully | Main | Another parliamentary whitewash? »

Another 1% off grid margin

The Telegraph is reporting that the nuclear reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool that were taken offline because of cracking in their boilers are to stay out of commission for slightly longer than expected. However, more worryingly, when they do come back online they will not be running at full capacity.

The two twin-reactor plants at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool have been shut down since August amid safety fears following the discovery of cracks in one boiler structure at Heysham.

The ageing reactors are likely to be restarted in coming months at just 75pc-80pc of their usual output in order to prevent high temperatures causing further cracks, EDF said on Friday.

Both stations are in the 1GW capacity range, so we are looking at the loss of another 0.5GW of output, which could be as much as 1% of peak winter demand. Margins for winter 2015/16 were already expected to be as low as 2.5%.

I think National Grid are going to have to step up their efforts to get additional reserve capacity available.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (30)

Re-arrange the following words into a well-known phrase or saying:

roost home the coming chickens to are

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

The one thing in this whole demand-side-control/capacity/renewables shambles which makes me smile, is the thought that owners of electric cars are liable to come down in the morning to discover that their eco-toy has had its battery drained, propping up overnight demand....

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

So at what point do the large generators gain as much market power (nationally) as the OPEC cartel had in the 1970s? That is, at what point does tightness of supply mean they can further reduce supply and increase prices at the same time?

Of course no company would want to be seen to be acting in that manner (though Enron did just that in California). But a combination of no new capacity, breakdowns, and 'unforeseen' outages for maintenance could all conspire with the green-dream to bring about these circumstances. We must be getting close.

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Don't forget that when the wind stops blowing, all those turbines will consume electricity. That's about another 0.1 to 0.4GW gone walkabout (but the wind industry is a bit reticent about saying how much they consume when shutdown).

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It's obvious. Pay people to peddle Boris Bikes while parked in their stations. Connect them up to the grid. Rolled out nationally this could solve our power problems and massively improve peoples health saving the NHS billions effectively making the scheme self funding.

Having to continually replace worn out bike parts would also solve many employment issues.

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Crook

michael: The interconnectors will be the first to have unforeseen problems. Then the big six will have also have problems. Ed Davey will have his excuses all lined up to blame the big six.

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby


"battery drained, propping up overnight demand"

I like the thought, although it does rather assume that the car will let you draw power out of it and that the charger works as an inverter in reverse!

Still, it would be a much better scheme than the fridges that turn themselves off, saving the power required by a single light-bulb.

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Lots and lots of lovely subsidy for the STOR providers.

But at lease burning diesel in industrial estates or round the back of hospitals and schools is GREEN.

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

I was told yesterday by someone who knows a key worker ar Heysham that cracks in the boilers associated with a further reactor had been discovered. Things are getting serious.
Squeaky bum time for Ed Davey!

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Germany starts to ration energy, but dresses it up as policy instead, hilarious!

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterc777

sherlock1 and jamespd

I noticed in a recent eco-car add that one of the "benefits" listed in the Voice Over was to the effect that one day it might even be powering your house.
I barely noticed it so I suspect most people wouldn't have and if they did most of those might be wondering why on earth they would want their car battery to be powering their house when they had mains electricity.
I doubt that a fraction of the population know what's likely to happen soon.

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Philip Bratby

I assume you mean the 5,800 large turbines and not the nearly 25,000 small ones installed by farmers, enthusiasts etc.
All I can find is what you probably know.
GE 1.6mw turbine requires 40 kw/hr
GE 2.75mw turbine requires 50 kw/hr
Vesta V82 requires 50 kw/hr Claimed that it is high because it uses an electromagnet, compared with newer turbines that use rare-earth-based “super” permanent magnets.

3 x 1.5MW windmills operated by Kodiak, Alaska The maximum parasitic load (for 1 reported second) was 77 KW. The modal value for the parasitic load was 38 KW or 13 KW per turbine. But note the spike in usage!
“I can for example report that for it's third year of operation (2008) the 90MW (nameplate capacity) offshore wind off the North Kent coast imported 603MWh of electricity. (presumably Kentish Flats). Rough calculation 8KW per turbine. may be of interest

On the other hand a Mike Barnard claims (in several blogs) that wind turbines draw no electricity
All I can say is that if there are supercapacitors and batteries capable of turning 92 ton nacelles then they would be useful for providing it when the wind doesn’t blow.

All up you may well be looking at 1GW draw.

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Here is another 1GW in hibernation.

National Grid has awarded SSE a 1 year £6 million contract to keep Peterhead gas-fired power station on the system.

This for voltage control - Peterhead is required to just sit there doing nothing until NG ring up to give 24 hours notice for some juice.


Scottish Power Renewables has abandoned plans for a 75MW windfarm (Mynydd Mynyllod) in North Wales following technical and environmental studies.

Exactly, why bother with all the hoohaa surrounding on-shore windmills if you can make a living whilst polishing the handrails around a snoozing CCGT power station?

Trebles all round.

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

The engineer may have been making it up, but when I heard him on the radio 3 weeks ago he said - Everything is under control, the plant walls were predicted during their lifetime to get increasing cracks in a small numbers of their thousands
- furthermore it was always anticipated 30 years ago that there would be future downtimes for inspections and slightly decreasing capacity as the plant ages.

As I said it might be BS, but it does make sense
..However it is normal in other industries that new technologies & materials come in so that at the end of it's life it actually performs better than the projections from 30 years ago and the working life also turns out to be longer than anticipated
... Is it not true that many nuclear plants are operating longer lives than anticipated at time of construction?

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:12 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

ha @B-off "abandoned plans.. following technical and environmental studies." = "realised easy subsidy cash faces future questioning..lets go and put our cash in a more gullible country"

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:15 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

@Graeme 603MWh= £93,465 that wind farm would receiveif they pushed the same amount of energy into the grid
Guaranteed Feed In Tariffs
Offshore wind- £155/MWh in 2015, before falling to £150/MWh in 2016-17 and £140/MWh in 2018-19. Under strike prices revealed in July, by 2019 offshore wind was to cost £135/MWh

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Graeme No.3

I think you mean kW, not kW/h (nor kWh, unless per some time interval) for the GE & Vesta machines (i.e kilo Joules per second, not kilo Joules per second^2)

Taking the example of your 90MW unit, assuming a 30% capacity factor it would produce about 240,000 MWh pa, so 603MWh would only be about 1/4% of the total. It does however equate to an average of nearly 69kW, which seems quite a lot.

I wonder where that power goes and how it varies with output? How many homes could it power? Enquiring minds need to know ;-)

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

Graeme No.3

I think you mean kW, not kW/h (nor kWh, unless per some time interval) for the GE & Vesta machines (i.e kilo Joules per second, not kilo Joules per second^2)

Taking the example of your 90MW unit, assuming a 30% capacity factor it would produce about 240,000 MWh pa, so 603MWh would only be about 1/4% of the total. It does however equate to an average of nearly 69kW, which seems quite a lot.

I wonder where that power goes and how it varies with output? How many homes could it power? Enquiring minds need to know ;-)

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

steve crook

The problem is if you peddle all the bikes there won't be any left to pedal, unless the people you have peddled them to pedal them themselves.

Oct 17, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

The figure for output that year was given as 265,139MWh. That works out at a CF of 33.6%. And yes, the input was 0.23% of the output.

Re consumption, I was using figures supplied for amount drawn while the turbines weren't running. They seemed high to me, but there is little doubt that turbines do draw power while stationary. I was told that newer machines draw 3-5kW/h while resting. It may be that the higher figures are an average of all power drawn by the machines, including startup and rotation of the blades to stop shaft imbalance/ blade damage.

The biggest problem I can foresee is if the wind starts blowing just above the minimum cut-in speed. Thousands of turbines will start drawing electricity to drive the yaw motor. As I indicated turning a 92 ton nacelle requires more power than can be stored onboard. (The blade motor(s) will be drawing too as they adjust the angle). But at low wind speed the output will not immediately cover the drawdown, so something will give way.

Oct 17, 2014 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

This just came in(is it too crazy to be true ?) .what do you think happened when protesters tried to inflate their anti-coal power inflatable banner with renewable-energy from a solar PV panel ? video of power turned sour

Oct 17, 2014 at 6:20 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen


CFD tariffs are indexed to CPI. The base year is 2012. The figures relate to the start-up date of new capacity, but the reality is that offshore wind will be costing over £150/MWh throughout, because of the indexation. 6 years' inflation even at 2% adds 12.5% to the quoted price.

Oct 17, 2014 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Re-arrange the following words into a well-known phrase or saying:

roost home the coming chickens to are

Why words re-arrange should?

Oct 17, 2014 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterYoda

Graeme No:3 - A "kW/h" ("kilowatt per hour") does not make any sense. A kilowatt is itself a measure of energy per hour.

Do you mean kWh? Or simply kW? (the latter seems likely if it's the power being drawn while not generating)

Oct 18, 2014 at 7:11 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A:

Too many people, especially the left, use kW and MW to measure theoretical capacity. I admit I shouldn't have used the term but I was trying to make it clear that each machine was drawing at a rate of 3-5 kWh by using an expression that the average layman could grasp. e.g. My electricity bill says I use 8 kWh daily and these wind turbines use that in 2 or 3 hours.

Oct 18, 2014 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Roger, Oct 17, 2014 at 3:41 PM

I live here (and was born here, in Lancaster, actually, but I live in Morecambe, just down the road to Heysham - pronounced heesham, not haysham, for those fools who know no better) and I have heard the same. I was told, at the moment, there are 100s of extra workers, working at all hours, to try to fix things but it's very old technology. Mostly, thanks to a general misanthropy in our ruling class and a loss of faith in technology over the last 25 or so years there has been no real investment.

Oct 19, 2014 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

Yes Lewis. My info originated from a management source who also observed re the general situation that this winter we might, in a favourable scenario, get by, but that next winter, if at all colder, would see the lights out for sure.

Oct 19, 2014 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Major fire at Didcot B gas power station - supplies 1,360MW.

Oct 19, 2014 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Snap Tiny. I was half an hour after you.

Oct 19, 2014 at 10:06 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

And another one bites the dust:
Fire at Didcot B another 1.3GW lost?

Oct 19, 2014 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>