Will the Lights Go Out this Winter?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Energy
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Energy
Whilst reading the news that the Channel Islands have lost their main underwater internet connector due to a dragging ship's anchor, it would seem that this is the least of the UK's worries. The anchor also took out 4 of the 8 interconnecter cables linking the UK with France reducing max capacity, and putting in doubt the 1.1 per cent peak hour headroom in the National Grid calculations.

Normally the interconnector imports power into the UK most of the time, but this winter levels of imports/exports have been far more varied due to capacity issues in both France and Britain.

"On the 15th, 17th and 18th of November this activity meant that the system was very short heading into the evening peak with what appeared to be very limited evening margin, between available supply and demand, only for the interconnector to turn from a ~2GW export to France for the day to a ~2GW import across the evening peak; ensuring that France was able to reduce its cost of baseload power across the day and that GB was able to manage a tricky evening demand peak,"

Lalor said.
"The interconnector has really been acting as a regulating valve, helping contain prices in both regions when there have been shortages and allowing UK generation to benefit from high prices in France and vice versa. The reduction in levels of capacity across this interconnector by 50 per cent will reduce the size of the regulating activity at a time when temporary shortages are becoming more common."

Lalor added that this winter has already seen some very higher power prices in both countries (with the UK seeing its first supplier go bust this winter period) and the main impact of this will be increased price volatility in both markets and an increased requirement for both nations to handle their own capacity issues domestically.

"Both countries expect to see tight margins during similar time periods, so the ability to meet peak periods shouldn't be adversely affected, but the ability of the interconnectors to regulate prices will be reduced."

Who would be a small energy supplier in these troubled times?

The full article can be read here:

http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2016/11/capacity-problem-looms-as-main-uk-interconnector-damaged.html
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Replies

  • matelodavematelodave Forumite
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    Can't see a problem - wind power will solve it;)
    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers
  • BrowntoaBrowntoa Forumite, Board Guide
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    we are self sufficient in coal , lets start burning that again
    Links in my signature currently broken
    I'm the Board Guide of the ,Telephones, Pensions , Shop Don't drop ,over 50's , Boost your income and Discount Code boards which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum runnning smoothly .However, please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post please report it to [email protected] Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.[
  • savemoneysavemoney Forumite
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    I was reading a news app on my tablet last night and it said France is having problems with some of its nuclear power stations and has had to shut some down, and is concerned about same power station planned in UK to be built. It also said we exported energy to them first time in 4 years

    We get these every year though now about having enough power in Winter. I thought they had some back up using diesel engines if need be and shutting down some manufacturing plants obviously at some cost to bill payers.
  • PasturesNewPasturesNew Forumite
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    I've had an email from the Islands this morning, maybe that was sent via satellite from a mobile though....

    Re electricity - maybe it's time for individual rationing! Why turn the lights out for everybody when one person's got 200 devices running ... and another is sitting with one low energy lightbulb and a little old telly on?

    Imagine if a household could be shut down once their daily/weekly ration had run out. And/or maybe we could buy/sell our own ration .... so those over-users had to pay us a higher rate, making them more aware of how wasteful they are.
  • SailorSamSailorSam Forumite
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    When we had power cuts years ago, i worked in a pub, and we couldn't even pull a pint.
    Liverpool is one of the wonders of Britain,
    What it may grow to in time, I know not what.

    Daniel Defoe: 1725.
  • joncombejoncombe Forumite
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    Re electricity - maybe it's time for individual rationing! Why turn the lights out for everybody when one person's got 200 devices running ... and another is sitting with one low energy lightbulb and a little old telly on?

    IMHO this is the real reason behind the push for Smart Meters. It is not really to save you the bother of reading the meter, it's so that time of use charging can be implemented.

    If there is too little electricity being generated for demand the prices will shoot up and will displayed on your in home display.

    The trouble is times of low capacity and high demand in the UK often co-incide. For example when it's cold as now there will be more demand for heating (a lot of which is electric). But this is also when we generate the least from solar (there is less daylight) and also often wind (because the wind usually drops when the sun goes down). Solar panels covered in snow also won't generate anything!

    It worries me because I think we will find people already struggling to keep warm will find the cost of doing so goes up at the time they need it most.

    The problem is that in other countries that have implemented "time of use" charging, their periods of high demand are often caused by the user of air conditioners (rather than heating) which is the times when you can get most energy from solar. In the UK, the situation is reversed.

    IMHO until we can find a way to store excess power generated at other times, we need more nuclear power or other power stations. I don't think wind and solar can ever be 100% of the solution. So it worries me there seems to be virtually no investment in this other than (possibly) Hinkley Point.
  • lstar337lstar337 Forumite
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    I've had an email from the Islands this morning, maybe that was sent via satellite from a mobile though....
    They are still connected via France. Slower speeds though.
  • matelodavematelodave Forumite
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    For those who interested where it all come from http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/
    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers
  • RobisereRobisere Forumite
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    I neither advocate nor oppose the burning of coal to close our energy gap, but the following is absolutely true. I was a miner for a short couple of years, intended to be a mining engineer, but I took up another branch of engineering instead. My dad, brothers and nephews were all miners and I grew up in a pit village. So my experiences support these facts.

    Under Nottinghamshire, parts of South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and under the North Sea, possibly almost to Belgium, is an extraordinarily thick seam of very hard coal. It is also very deep, possibly the deepest coal on the planet. The pit which was situated in my village, opened a deep drift to find this coal and began mining it in the late 70's. I spoke to friends who worked this seam and they said it varied from 20 to 27 feet in thickness. The pit became what was called a "Superpit" and the surface workings were expanded, a large railyard installed to take the coal to the Trent Valley power stations and beyond. Coal was ripped out at a fantastic rate, but the railyard and infrastructure was expensive. Production would have paid for itself within a decade, other pits would have been expanded and we would still have been mining our own energy today: there was an estimated 500 years of coal available at the energy requirements then used. The Uk would have had a breathing space in which little energy would have been imported.

    Events which led to the strike of the 80's and the confrontations between government and unions, resulted in the then Tory government declaring that this pit was uneconomical. Based upon the expenditure to build the railyard and other infrastructure, which as I have stated, would have paid for itself within a decade. It closed and no other steps were taken to use this energy resource.

    The technology to 'clean-burn' coal was known even then: it would have been relatively simple (albeit initially expensive) to apply this technology. Two factors prevented that. Maggie Thatcher wanted to break the power of the NUM, as the most powerful union group in the UK. Arthur Scargill wanted to bring down the government and replace it with a Socialist government which would do the bidding of the Communist fellow-travellers within the unions and the Labour Movement.

    So if anyone feels like picking a particular target to blame for our current energy problems, and the inevitable price rises to follow, those are your choices.
    I think this job really needs
    a much bigger hammer.
  • peachypricepeachyprice Forumite
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    We coped with the power cuts in the 70's, just like we'd cope with this.
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
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