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« A not-so-cunning plan | Main | Crooked briefs »

Hunky dory

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers has a report out today which looks at the UK's energy situation. It seems that we have a bit of a crisis ahead.

The loss of coal by 2025, along with growth in demand and the closure of the majority of our nuclear power stations will therefore be significant, leaving a potential supply gap of 40%–55%, depending on wind levels.

To bridge this gap, the Institute sees no option but new gas=fired power stations and UK shale gas. As they explain though, there are some slight problems with this strategy. If there is no increase in demand then we are only (only!) going to need 30 new CCGT power stations. Unfortunately we don't enough skilled people to build them. And demand actually looks set to go up. And the greens are going to prevent UK shale going ahead. 

Apart from that it's all hunky dory.

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Reader Comments (92)

JamesG ... from the linked repotr

A second option for UK-generated natural gas is its
extraction through hydraulic fracturing of shale,
or ‘fracking’. In the UK very little gas is currently
extracted from shale and to increase to the levels
needed would require a step-change in the industry.
On 18 December 2015 the House of Commons
Energy and Climate Change Committee published
the report of the Consultation on Priorities for
Parliament, 2015–2020[9]. The section titled The
Future of Gas identifies that over half the responses
they had to the consultation in this theme were
public opposition to shale gas projects. This type
of opposition restricts the potential impact of
shale gas in the wider energy landscape. When
planning for 2025 this means that shale gas is
unlikely to be ready in time to meet demand due to
public opposition.

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke


Again, from the report

Using the “optimistic” case that there is no increase in demand, these four most likely scenarios are:

1. The coal-fired power stations have closed and only Hinkley C is built for new nuclear supply. To fill the demand gap of 22% a further 30 CCGT power stations will need to be built (most likely without combined heat and power networks and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)).

2. The coal-fired power stations are closed but four new large nuclear power stations or 20 small modular reactors are “fast-tracked” (most likely without any geological disposal facility for radioactive waste disposal).

3. The coal-fired power stations are closed but there has been a change in government and industry investment into more research and development of advanced solar, tidal and wind and CCS technologies combined with energy storage. Hinkley C is built with Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and hence just 10 new CCGT power stations (with CHP and CCS) are built.

4. “Business as Usual” with no added incentive for renewables and Hinkley C being only partially built and new CCGT power appearing at current rates (most likely without CHP and CCS). In this case, supply can only be secured by granting an extension to existing coal fired power stations.

[…] This timeframe of 10 years to 2025 given by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to design, build and deliver new power to the grid makes the first three of our scenarios very unlikely

You may recognise the text from Scenario 1. ;-) Somebody is being economical with the proverbial

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

'the public'. We'll see how they like skyrocketing prices against the black and brown shortage outs. There'll be glaring involved, and not only at the bills. Squinting too, in the dim light, and shivering.

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Richard... Meanwhile China Datang Corporation (CDT) is just finishing the construction of the second part of a 2GW, supercritical, low pollution coal fired power station in record time (less than two years).

Ah but don't forget those 27 Chinese coal mines per week.

Being closed, that is.

China will aim to close 4,300 mines and cut annual production capacity by 700 million tonnes over the next three years.

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Chickens roost.
Roost chickens.

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I read a ImechE monthly magazine at the dentist and the letters to the editor. Definitely a green publication and green outfit.
I see only one solution to sidelining the green blob and politicians including Cameron. That is
The USA electors maintain Republican control of Congress and send Cruz into the White House. He will sort out NOAA and GISS and questions will then be raised about HAD/CRUT "homogenization". With surface temperatures then aligning with satellites and balloons and progressively widening from the "wonderful" models some sense may return. Only other possibility is the advent of severe black outs they cannot explain away. Cruz will disown Paris and possibly withdraw from IPCC including funding. Personally I fear the black outs will arrive first though.

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

Phil C

"China will aim to close 4,300 mines.."

I think the operative words are "aim" and "will". For the benefit of gullible westerners.

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:50 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

NCC, David Jones

The Israelis are a resourceful people, but never forget that they gave us Uri Geller...

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:53 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

jamesp, I think China will aim to close all coal mines when they serve no economic purpose. It is amazing how intelligent a nation becomes, when it does not subsidise Green Blob subversive doctrines.

Jan 26, 2016 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Once the connector gets to Cape Wrath if has a bit of a way to go to get somewhere useful. At best it would have to get to the Beauly-Denny line across about 70 miles of virtually uninhabited country. As the Beauly-Denny line cost about cost about £10 million per mile and this would be much more challenging then the cost would be in excess of £1 Billion I'd guess.

Jan 26, 2016 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Phil C.
Points taken. However I'm sure the nimbys would reject a local nuclear power station, windmill farm or solar farms (or indeed any change at all) even more rabidly than shale gas wells so it's a moot point. And once it is finally pointed out to them that they are actually piping this nasty explosive gas into their houses already they might pull their heads out of their arses a little. And there is a gas glut currently anyway which is not going away in the short term.

But assuming that CCS, advanced storage, tidal, solar are very unlikely to fill the gap and with wind needing diesel or gas backup and any coal policy U-turn likely to be too little, too late then it's either gas or nothing isn't it? So I think Bish's interpretation of the Business As Usual scenario is correct with or without shale gas. I'd only add that the current nuclear plant will also require extensions and Hinkley C will not be ready in time, if it even starts.

Jan 26, 2016 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Windfarms paid double the market price to cut power

" Wind farms were paid more than double the market price to stop generating electricity this week, despite the country facing an increased risk of blackouts this winter.

Strong wind conditions in the early hours of Monday and Tuesday morning threatened to overwhelm the grid with more subsidised power than needed, forcing National Grid to offer lucrative payouts of between £58 and £115 per MWh to turn the turbines off.

The payouts stand well above the current market rate of around £45/MWh to compensate wind farms for the subsidies they might otherwise have earned. ......

..........Constraint payments were also paid to coal and gas plants this week, but at significantly lower prices, below the market rate. Thermal generation needs less compensation from National Grid because the plants save money on the fuel they don’t burn."

But wait, there is hope! HOPE!

".........Eventually, National Grid hopes that households could pay cheaper energy bills for using electricity when wind power is strong or the sun is shining...... ."

Jan 26, 2016 at 3:29 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Least surprising news since , bear find woods a good place to get rid off personal waste ?

Jan 26, 2016 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

The fact that the Germans are building new coal fired power stations is rarely mentioned in the MSM and never by the BBC. I believe the fuel will be brown coal. Elsewhere in Europe Poland is building new coal fired plant. How can they do this yet we are set on closing all our plants down?

Jan 26, 2016 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpen

@ JohnOfEnfield Jan 26, 2016 at 12:04 PM

"The greens now want us to give up gas for heating our homes. That, according to an analysis I saw, requires 1TW of extra capacity. That is equivalent to 250 Draxes"

If you are referring to the post on WUWT, please note that the author was quickly taken to task for his assumption about UK domestic boiler output. He based his workings on a figure of 60kW NOT 60,000Btu which is the more realistic value. As a result the numbers are out by some 3 and a half times. This doesn't alter the basic premise of the story.

Jan 26, 2016 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Ward

Because they are making finished products for UK consumption.

Germany is a colony.

Jan 26, 2016 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Phil Clarke, that a 'public consultation survey' revealed public opposition to shale gas, and you quote it, suggests it is not a fair reflection of public opinion. The Green Blob have an appalling reputation for rigging consensus data, so why should anyone believe this one?

Was science involved? Or economic reality relating to fuel bills?

Should the Daily Mail be asked to conduct a public consultation exercise on how pointless and expensive, useless and unreliable wind tubines are, for everybody apart from subsidy farmers?

Jan 26, 2016 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@Dave Ward

Thanks for the information. I stand (humbly) corrected. I obviously need to read down more of the comments in future.

I'm glad it doesn't change the basic premise though. Generously put.

Jan 26, 2016 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnOfEnfield

At this moment UK generating figures are: coal 16.61%, wind 12.59% (very good day for wind), imports from France 4.35%.

I understand that France will be closing some of its nuclear capacity starting next year. Will it still have excess capacity to export to the UK?

Jan 26, 2016 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpen

Don't worry, the Government (or is that DECC) has it all sorted:

This Government is taking long-term decisions today to tackle a legacy of under-investment, build a system of energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century and to create the right environment for business to invest in clean, affordable and secure energy. But we don’t apologise for doing this at the same time as working to keep bills as low as possible and making sure that the people that foot the bill, the hardworking families and businesses of Britain, get a good deal.

We know that old and dirty coal, and some ageing nuclear power plants will be closing over the next few years, and that’s precisely why we’ve put in place a long-term plan to ensure we have secure, affordable and clean energy supplies that can be relied on now and in the future.

We are the first country to propose an end date to using unabated coal and we will do so in a way that maintains energy security, which comes first. We are clear that a range of energy sources such as nuclear, offshore wind and shale gas all have roles to play in the low-carbon energy mix, powering our country and safeguarding our future economic security.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said.

Time to get that generator and lots of fossil fuel to power it.

Jan 26, 2016 at 7:19 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

This report from ImechE reads like an undergraduate essay for a course with "sustainable" in its title. Government policy is defined via an article in the Guardian, there is a load of green waffle and speculation, and the report finishes with this piece of "engineering" insight:

"Continued focus is needed on supply, demand and emissions across the whole spectrum of energy use if we are to obtain wider benefits in UK health and welfare."

Note: "health and welfare", no mention of ... err ... engineering.

Jan 26, 2016 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

The Institution of Chemicl Engineers is similarly afflicted by greenery. Last month's house mag approvingly quoted Greenpeace's delight at Rudd's announcement of the planned end of coal generation. The director of communication has stood as a Labour candidate for parliament a couple of times, I'm pretty sure it was him who wrote a dreadful letter of support to Ed Davey a couple of years back. It is increasingly difficult to take the institution seriously.

Jan 26, 2016 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Fancy that? .....................These days, certainly I didn't know that, Imech was printing lurid science fiction chick-lit , a small wonder it is then that, the country is going to the dogs.

We can forget it - these nations of the UK - are on the way to becoming a northern replication of that third world sh*t heap where having the lights on is a infrequent miracle of bodgemanship - a country twixt India and Afghanistan. Which is going to be OUR = the future, unless someone - part of the great and the good, bursts the great green bubble illusion.

The road to a freezing hell is: paved with green intentions.

Only a switch back to coal is the answer - nothing else will ever suffice. Fusion is a long ways off. Fission - Nuclear? - don't make me laugh......A new ('new' that's so funny!) - reactor at Hinkley will never be built, the design is antiquated and crap, as are those who are responsible for its construction. Burning GAS (to heat water to make steam to turn generators to produce electricity) - what an insanely abominable waste of a precious resource.

Someone needs a reality check - otherwise, we're stuffed.

Jan 26, 2016 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I see that Delingpole has picked up this story at Breitbart London:

Britain is heading for a major energy crisis within ten years, says a report published today by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers....

...Even so, the organisation that produced the report – the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – is as much a part of the problem as it is the solution. Like so many institutions it has been swallowed up by the Green Blob.

Jan 26, 2016 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

Better haul ass then developing thorium.
Not much to whine, moan and nimby about there.
Or am I underestimating my green fellow man?

Jan 26, 2016 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Should this energy gap become reality then it's criminal proceedings time against every energy minister and PM from Ed Miliband onward. Negligence / malfeasance in office or whatever is required, but they should be held to account. It's always been a stark-raving bonkers policy to close existing power capacity before new power is available, and here we see the (projected) 'proof'. This isn't so much a normal policy as sheer recklessness in office. They can't say they weren't warned.

Jan 26, 2016 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

"Time to get that generator and lots of fossil fuel to power it" Phillip Bratby Jan 26, 2016 at 7:19 PM

I've got the gennies (two of them), the problem is the fuel. IIRC it's illegal to store more than 10 (or is it 20?) litres of petrol at home, and modern unleaded with it's mandated alcohol content is well known for "going off" quickly, to say nothing of buggering fuel lines and seals. Short of converting to LPG (and finding room for lots of heavy, visibly obvious gas bottles), there doesn't seem to be an easy solution. From what I read on boating forums, even diesel is now suffering from problems. Of course, a cynic might suggest this was planned all along...

Jan 26, 2016 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Ward

Dave: Mine is a DG, converted to run on LPG. I have lots of room to store bottles and am remote enough for nobody to know.

Jan 26, 2016 at 10:16 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Please tell what can we do to protect ourselves? Heat pumps? Small domestic/commercial diesel gensets?
I've got a 900 watt air con/heat pump that provides up to 3 Kw and a 1.2 kw one that provides up to 3.5 Kw. And small diesel generators seem to get better by the week.. How soon before I can buy a wheelie-bin size Nuclear power station to stick in my loft? It's only a miniaturized submarine power plant.after all. What could possibly go wrong? Is there anything exciting just over the horizon?

Jan 26, 2016 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermatt

Dave Ward, diesel has always been prone to diesel bug. Adding FAME (?) or whatever bio diesel stuff has increased ten fold, the number of different 'bugs' that can live and thrive in diesel, if there is any water present. The diesel additives that I know work, are Marine 16, and Grotomar 71. They use the same biocide. In a test by Practical Boat Owner 10(?) years ago they came top. They do not 'breakup' the biomass that some products 'claim' to do.

I used to think diesel bug was a bit of a myth invented by snake oil salesmen. It is not! Diesel stored for emergency generators is vulnerable, if not treated.

Jan 26, 2016 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Owen Morgan

The Chinook saga (is a very old story in tech terms) was related to the FADEC system (nothing to do with fair weather flying) - some half witted RAF bigwigs decided we needed an independent British! FADEC system and gave the job to some chums / even dimmer bulbs - who in turn subbed out the job to an American company (Allied Signal) that had no experience of designing or writing said software.

The software was later audited for mistakes by an outfit with the requisite skill:

EDS's contract with the MoD was to give its view on the quality of the Chinook Mk2 T55 fuel control Full Authority Digital Engine Control - Fadec - software.

EDS put the anomalies it found in the fuel control software into four categories:

Cat 1 - EDS has a high level of confidence that an anomaly relates to a real error in the code or a discrepancy between the code and the documentation,

Cat 2 - The anomaly relates to poor code or poor correspondence between code and documentation but it is likely that it performs the intended function

Cat 3 - These anomalies relate purely to obvious documentation errors such as typographical errors and incorrect commenting of code. They have no direct implication for the correct operation of the code

Cat 4 - These anomalies arise from the 'style' of coding, or the way in which the code has been modelled for analysis. They do not relate to any source language use that will cause incorrect operation.

EDS examined 102 software modules (45.2%) representing 17.8% of the total lines of code (approx 16,000), before it stopped its analysis because of the density of discrepancies. These were its findings:

Cat 1 Cat 2 Cat 3 Cat 4
Primary software lane 13 111 42 81
Backup [reversionary] lane 8 43 15 20
Documentation Traceability 35 39 75 3
Total 56 193 132 104 485

more here

The debacle - rumor has it had the civvy rotor-jocks at Boscombe refusing to fly the machines (insubordination for a RAF type)

It is now taught on some software engineering courses as an object lesson in how to royally screw up - EDS handed back the code after checking less than half of it - and told MoD that checking the rest was essentially pointless after what they'd already found!.

The MoD iirc continued for some time trying to make out they'd done nothing untoward - to the point of hiring Ukrainians + MILs to do helicopter operations for us in Afghanistan for covert money in manilla envelopes because we didn't have adequate helicopters available.... - which brings me back to the insanity of DECC + Miliband, Huhne and Davey.....

ps couldn't get the columns to format sanely there - small IT potato compared to this epic balls-up.

Jan 26, 2016 at 11:43 PM | Registered Commentertomo

matt, the UK motor trade has not historically got involved with diesels below about 1600cc. Think Fiesta diesel etc.

The cheapest diesel genset is an insurance write off or MOT failure small diesel car, then buy a high output alternator £150?, plus a 12v - 240v transformer. You will need off road parking.

Small diesel gensets are likely to have smaller diesel engines from Japan, where historically there has been demand for compact agricultural equipment, diggers etc. They are well regarded engines. Kubota engines for yachts are sold as Beta engines in the UK and USA, but a scrap car will be cheaper!

Jan 26, 2016 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie

and run it on heating oil with ca. 50:1 ATF mebbe?

I have seen the UK's electrical utility future - and it's called Nigeria...

Jan 27, 2016 at 12:40 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Looking on the BBC website today this worrying report appears to have completely passed unnoticed by their News, and Science & Environment editors. #surprised...not

Jan 27, 2016 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

But the BBC are carrying this one:

Decision on new nuclear power plant 'delayed'

Britain's first new nuclear power plant in decades could be delayed amid reports an EDF board meeting to decide whether to invest in Hinkley Point Power Station has been postponed.

Jan 27, 2016 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Haven't read the paper but following the comments it seems that the obvious and most workable interim solution is a few more high efficiency coal fired generators as Germany has done. Of course, there will have to be provision for CCS - i.e. an empty field somewhere not-too-far-away.

Jan 27, 2016 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Hunky dory

Jan 27, 2016 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered Commenteractually not everything Hunky dory

Quickie for Ben Pile and Geoff Chambers

Getting rid of useless Windmills going back to Gas Power Stations

Zika Virus now having to bring back DDT.

Jan 27, 2016 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Jamspid, 7:36pm:

DDT never went away as a disease vector control, only as an agricultural insecticide.

Jan 27, 2016 at 8:25 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian 8:25, will DDT work to eradicate GreenBlobitis? It seems to be very contagious, draining the life out of business and private enterprise, and has spread with fatal consequences.

Jan 27, 2016 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC: I wish it would.

On a more serious note. Could I please point out that yesterday was World Holocaust Day.

The reason that most of the survivors of the nazi death camps actually lived was because they were literally showered by allied soldiers with DDT powder that killed the lice and fleas the transmitted the typhus, plague and other diseases that were destroying them.

Rachael Carson and her hippy friends may have saved a few 'silent springs' and some flowers. But DDT saved a generation.

Jan 28, 2016 at 12:33 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian


So is there data available from Israel and elsewhere on Jewish concentration camp survivors who were exposed to DDT by the Allies and their subsequent health and post mortality rates?

Jan 28, 2016 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

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