Isn't this more concerning than the £16 Ofgem hike?

JSHarris
JSHarris Posts: 374
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edited 19 December 2023 at 2:12PM in Energy

"Wasted wind power will add £40 to the average UK household's electricity bill in 2023, according to a think tank.

That figure could increase to £150 in 2026, Carbon Tracker has estimated.

When it is very windy, the grid cannot handle the extra power generated. Wind farms are paid to switch off and gas-powered stations are paid to fire up. The cost is passed on to consumers.

The government said major reforms will halve the time it takes to build energy networks to cope with extra wind power.

Energy regulator Ofgem announced new rules in November, which it said would speed up grid connections."

I knew there were major issues with the North/South transmission lines, but hadn't realised quite how big an impact this had on electricity bills.  Seems staggering that it's costing as much as £40 for an average consumer, let alone rising to £150 in a couple of years.

I wonder what the main reason is for it taking so long to increase transmission line capacity?

If companies can build massive offshore wind farms, and run long transmission lines from them to shore, in just a few years, why on earth does it take 14 years to just run new lines from North to South?


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  • born_again
    born_again Posts: 13,578
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    JSHarris said:
    If companies can build massive offshore wind farms, and run long transmission lines from them to shore, in just a few years, why on earth does it take 14 years to just run new lines from North to South?


    New build is a lot easier to install, than trying to upgrade a existing working network. 
    Life in the slow lane
  • JSHarris
    JSHarris Posts: 374
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    JSHarris said:
    If companies can build massive offshore wind farms, and run long transmission lines from them to shore, in just a few years, why on earth does it take 14 years to just run new lines from North to South?


    New build is a lot easier to install, than trying to upgrade a existing working network. 

    Perhaps they just need to run a new build transmission line down the length of the country then, one with enough spare capacity to try and avoid this situation happening again in 20 years time.
  • Gerry1
    Gerry1 Posts: 9,754
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    Perhaps I'm very thick, but when it's too windy why can't just a proportion of the wind turbines be turned off, i.e. turn off the over capacity and leave the gas fired stations still switched off?
    If the weather gets a bit warmer I don't turn the boiler off and then light a fire instead !
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,634
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    JSHarris said:
    If companies can build massive offshore wind farms, and run long transmission lines from them to shore, in just a few years, why on earth does it take 14 years to just run new lines from North to South?
    There aren't many NIMBYs in the North Sea.
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 3.6kw inverter. 30MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
    Ofgem cap table, Ofgem cap explainer. Economy 7 cap explainer. Gas vs E7 vs peak elec heating costs.
  • JSHarris
    JSHarris Posts: 374
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    Gerry1 said:
    Perhaps I'm very thick, but when it's too windy why can't just a proportion of the wind turbines be turned off, i.e. turn off the over capacity and leave the gas fired stations still switched off?
    If the weather gets a bit warmer I don't turn the boiler off and then light a fire instead !

    It's to do with grid frequency stabilisation.  The gas stations provide FFR, so need to be turned on to maintain stability.  There always has to be a balance on the grid between stable output background generation (nuclear mostly), generation that can be predictively ramped up and down to provide longer term frequency stabilisation as predicted diurnal demand changes and FFR generation that responds quickly to rapid dips and peaks in grid frequency (the classic peak demands caused by water pumping during TV advert breaks, or at the end of live sports events, for example).  
    Wind cannot ramp up and down, it is what it is, so the only control is to turn it off, and doing that costs money, as the grid has to pay wind generators to curtail under the way their contracts are structured.  Likewise, FFR generators (typically gas powered, but now a few battery storage systems, plus Dinorwig) get paid a premium over the normal payment to turn on for frequency stabilisation.
  • JSHarris
    JSHarris Posts: 374
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    QrizB said:
    JSHarris said:
    If companies can build massive offshore wind farms, and run long transmission lines from them to shore, in just a few years, why on earth does it take 14 years to just run new lines from North to South?
    There aren't many NIMBYs in the North Sea.

    That thought had occurred to me, but there was no mention of it in the article so I wasn't sure whether it was planning delays caused by objections that were the root cause or not.
  • MattMattMattUK
    MattMattMattUK Posts: 8,215
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    edited 19 December 2023 at 2:47PM
    Gerry1 said:
    Perhaps I'm very thick, but when it's too windy why can't just a proportion of the wind turbines be turned off, i.e. turn off the over capacity and leave the gas fired stations still switched off?
    If the weather gets a bit warmer I don't turn the boiler off and then light a fire instead !
    It is poorly explained in the article, but Scotland has around 10GW of wind generation capacity, but only around 6GW can be transmitted to England where it is needed. Wind generation in Scotland needs to be taken offline and gas generation in England needs to be fired up to cover the demand in England, because there is no way of getting the electricity generated to where it needs to go. Worse still there is expected to be 38GW of generation capacity in Scotland by 2030, but only capacity to transmit 14GW, so at peak generation most of it will be wasted/not generated.
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,634
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    JSHarris said:
    Gerry1 said:
    Perhaps I'm very thick, but when it's too windy why can't just a proportion of the wind turbines be turned off, i.e. turn off the over capacity and leave the gas fired stations still switched off?
    If the weather gets a bit warmer I don't turn the boiler off and then light a fire instead !
    It's to do with grid frequency stabilisation.  The gas stations provide FFR, so need to be turned on to maintain stability.  There always has to be a balance on the grid between stable output background generation (nuclear mostly), generation that can be predictively ramped up and down to provide longer term frequency stabilisation as predicted diurnal demand changes and FFR generation that responds quickly to rapid dips and peaks in grid frequency (the classic peak demands caused by water pumping during TV advert breaks, or at the end of live sports events, for example). 
    There have been a handful of end-of-life thermal plants converted to provide stabiliation only (no generation). I think it's this project:
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 3.6kw inverter. 30MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
    Ofgem cap table, Ofgem cap explainer. Economy 7 cap explainer. Gas vs E7 vs peak elec heating costs.
  • JSHarris
    JSHarris Posts: 374
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    edited 19 December 2023 at 3:23PM
    QrizB said:
    JSHarris said:
    Gerry1 said:
    Perhaps I'm very thick, but when it's too windy why can't just a proportion of the wind turbines be turned off, i.e. turn off the over capacity and leave the gas fired stations still switched off?
    If the weather gets a bit warmer I don't turn the boiler off and then light a fire instead !
    It's to do with grid frequency stabilisation.  The gas stations provide FFR, so need to be turned on to maintain stability.  There always has to be a balance on the grid between stable output background generation (nuclear mostly), generation that can be predictively ramped up and down to provide longer term frequency stabilisation as predicted diurnal demand changes and FFR generation that responds quickly to rapid dips and peaks in grid frequency (the classic peak demands caused by water pumping during TV advert breaks, or at the end of live sports events, for example). 
    There have been a handful of end-of-life thermal plants converted to provide stabiliation only (no generation). I think it's this project:

    Hard to beat rotating mass!  The grid has always paid some generators to be normally non-generating spinning reserves for the same core purpose, being spinning and phase locked so they can stabilise the frequency if there's a sudden dip.  Doesn't always work, though, as the Hornsea/Little Barford event showed a few years ago.  Although neither plant at Little Barford was spinning reserve, they did try to quickly pick up when the Hornsea connection failed to recover after the strike, leading to both of the plants going over-pressure and shutting down.  That in turn caused load shedding across the SE to protect the rest of the grid from the low frequency, including knocking lots of trains offline for hours, as they all had a software glitch that stopped them automatically powering back on.  Allegedly a bloke with a laptop had to visit each stranded train to reboot it . . .
  • MeteredOut
    MeteredOut Posts: 1,099
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    edited 19 December 2023 at 3:53PM
    JSHarris said:

    I wonder what the main reason is for it taking so long to increase transmission line capacity?


    I've an idea; they should increase the standing charge so money can be invested in increasing the transmission line capacity.

    Martin should start pushing for that.
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