back to article Dirty diesel backups will make Hinkley Point C look like a bargain

Britain signed off on the most costly energy deal it has ever made this week – but the price we agreed for energy from Hinckley is still lower than the peak prices that will hit British wallets even harder, and sooner. Current commitments to renewable generation will cost each household £466 by 2020/21, the centre-right think …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm OK - all of my electricity comes out of a box on the wall

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      zero carbon means a significant amount of nuclear

      Even as a US liberal (so probably European moderate) I have to admit we aren't going zero carbon without nuclear (maybe fusion if we get incredibly lucky). The numbers just don't add up. Not a real big fan of creating waste that can kill life millions of years from now but considering we are looking at a second degree Celsius increase by 2050 (already at one) even with Paris agreements, zero carbon energy (at least in the developed world) is going to happen (along with probably mandated zero emission transportation). The human climate change denial much like the tobacco companies tactics will only work for so long as will building gas plants today.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: zero carbon means a significant amount of nuclear

        And one of the two main candidates for the US Presidency is a climate change denier.

        I'll leave it to you to decide which.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: one of the two main candidates for the US Presidency is a climate change denier.

          That will be the Clitorall Hinny then.

          In denial of the science that shows that climate changes independently of atmospheric CO2 levels, which have minimal effect.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: one of the two main candidates for the US Presidency is a climate change denier.

            >climate changes independently of atmospheric CO2 levels, which have minimal effect.

            And smoking doesn't cause lung cancer. Same tactics but I guess if you have a vested interest or ideology why not go with the proven stall playbook.

          2. Vendicar Decarian1

            Re: one of the two main candidates for the US Presidency is a climate change denier.

            Meanwhile the Earth is now warmer than at any time in the last 120,000 years.

            Hillary Clinton is not a fool denialist.

            Republican cowards often feel a need to lie about such things.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not a real big fan of creating waste that can kill life millions of years from now

        Well dont leave any CFL lamps around. Mercury kills forever.

        1. Vendicar Decarian1

          Re: Not a real big fan of creating waste that can kill life millions of years from now

          You do realize don't you that all those large tubular florescent bulbs in office buildings - the trillions of them out there, in every business in the world contain 20 times more mercury than any CF bulb.

          In addition if the energy used to power the CF bulb comes from coal, less mercury will enter the environment with the CF bulb than will be released into the environment by burning the coal needed to power a conventional bulb replacement.

      3. Phil.T.Tipp

        Re: zero carbon means a significant amount of nuclear

        "..considering we are looking at a second degree Celsius increase by 2050 (already at one)"

        Bollocks. Fact-free anti-science. Cast-iron sources or it's simple-minded regurgitation of ideology. Over to you.

        1. Vendicar Decarian1

          Re: zero carbon means a significant amount of nuclear

          "Bollocks. Fact-free anti-science." - Phil.T.Tripp

          Hmm. I suspect that climate scientists know a bit more about climate than Phil.T.Tripp.

          A team of top scientists is telling world leaders to stop congratulating themselves on the Paris agreement to fight climate change because if more isn't done, global temperatures will likely hit dangerous warming levels in about 35 years.

          Six scientists who were leaders in past international climate conferences joined with the Universal Ecological Fund in Argentina to release a brief report Thursday, saying that if even more cuts in heat-trapping gases aren't agreed upon soon, the world will warm by another 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) by around 2050.

          http://phys.org/news/2016-09-scientists-world-wont-dangerous.html#jCp

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: zero carbon means a significant amount of nuclear

          What constitutes a cast-iron source in this case? Because if what you're really saying is "there is no source that I will consider strong enough unless it confirms my existing beliefs" that would make your post a false invitation, but your requirement for "cast iron" predictions of future events does imply the traditional misapprehension of the scientific method prevalent among creationist ideologues. It's fine to be one of those - you're not going to stop progress in the long run, even if you are contributing to a cruel legacy for which our diminished future generations will judge you harshly - but if you are, why hide behind faux-socratic questioning?

          You might claim that you are susceptible to persuasion, but if you can look at the existing evidence and choose to ignore it, then you're already deep into that triangle of Backfire Effect, Confirmation Bias and Dunning-Kruger and nothing is going to change your mind unless you are able to let go of your preconceptions so you can learn and understand the existing science, Most people aren't able to do that and it doesn't really matter- our voices are noise on the digital wind and that is probably for the best because most of use know almost nothing about almost everything and in consequence we are making words with nothing behind them but conceit and ideology. Nothing but our ideas of how the world is supposed to be and no matter how pleasant they are those ideas could not have less bearing on the laws of physics or the way that moisture behaves in an atmosphere.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

    When the signing of the Hinkley C deal was announced, some Green Party mouth piece was banging on how we should be investing in research into renewables rather than building a new power station - "we could be world leaders in renewables!!" he cried.

    Ok, fair point. With sufficient research we could be, but until then (and who knows how many years/decades that would take) how would we keep lights on?

    Due to pandering to the Greens, we are now in the situation where we have no real choice but to sign this deal. Money that could have been spent developing low emission gas power has been wasted on solar/wind subsidies. The only people to have benefited from this are those who run wind farms etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

      we are now in the situation where we have no real choice but to sign this deal.

      Oh, we did have a choice. The answer is more CCGT if you want low cost, if you're a mouth-frothing carbonista, determined that CO2 is the source of all evil, then the answer is indeed nuclear, just not the Areva EPR.

      Much of the prep work at Hiinkley Point could have been reused for a couple of KEPCO APR1400. The APR1400 is proven to work, they're much cheaper than the Areva EPR, and even with the late start would probably be built quicker than the Areva plant.

      And even with Hinkley Point C getting an unjustified sign off by idiot politicians, they are proposing to allow both Nugen(Westinghouse AP1000) and Horizon (Hitatchi ABWR) to build new nuclear plants to totally different designs. So we'll be paying for three different designs, multiple safety reviews, losing any economies of scale. All of this sad, motley nuclear fleet will be owned by foreign investors, all the IP, design and most high value plant will be foreign, all will need to be handsome subsidised out of your electricity bills, and all are being built miles and miles from any demand centre, so guaranteeing that the low grade heat will be just waste energy, and the transmission losses will be maximised.

      All because our politicians and civil servants are a collection of unredeemed eco-obsessed fuckwits.

      1. Killing Time

        Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

        'All because our politicians and civil servants are a collection of unredeemed eco-obsessed fuckwits.'

        As much as I would like to agree there is a valid argument that we don't put all our eggs in one basket.

        This means varying the fuel between gas, nuclear, wind and solar. The Seventies saw the country brought to its knees by an over reliance on one fuel i.e. coal.

        That same argument can be applied to the generation technology, therefore multiple reactor designs spread the risk of a common design fault knocking out a large percentage of our generating capacity. There are three or four different manufacturers of Power Gas Turbines in the world ( foreign IP ) and the generating companies source from all of them for service in the UK precisely to hedge their risk, the same can be said for wind and solar.

        For a national infrastructure of such importance I find it difficult to argue against that approach as long as the percentage of each technology and costs are controlled, and there is the rub, as we are all paying for it via the capacity market and strike price each technology achieves.

        Personally I disagree with the diesel standby market which has come about and believe it should be replaced with additional gas capacity due to it's far more manageable emissions.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

        I remember when I was looking to go to university I applied for a sponsorship place by BNFL. That was in the days where the UK had genuine leading edge nuclear technology. Shames me that we now have to pander to others to get things done.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

          "I remember when I was looking to go to university I applied for a sponsorship place by BNFL."

          Yes, when I was at school the 6th form physics lab had all the exciting stuff - the little sources in their lead lined box, the klystron, Van der Graaff, and the little project I did after Cambridge entrance that involved separation of the uranium decomposition products and measuring the half lives. The assumption was that we would all become good little nuclear physicists. As far as I'm aware none of us did.

          The truth is that successive British governments seem to be unable to make their minds up on anything that requires long term investment, and the word gets round pretty quick.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

      some Green Party mouth piece was banging on how we should be investing in research into renewables rather than building a new power station - "we could be world leaders in renewables!!" he cried.

      Ok, fair point.

      I don't think it is a "fair point". The Greens are very good at agitating from the sidelines but how many of them are actively engaged in developing "renewables"? They are very good at being noisy but when it comes to the reality of providing a reliable source of a domestic and business energy supply I strongly suspect that they simply haven't a clue.

      IMHO there ought to be special hospitals where Green Enthusiasts are treated; operating theatres where if the power suddenly drops the operation stops and the patient, er, dies. Ward heating would, of course, be permanently unavailable.

      They might feel very righteous about their stance about I don't think that they have thought it through to its logical end-point.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

        "The Greens are very good at agitating from the sidelines but how many of them are actively engaged in developing "renewables"?"

        How many of them actually understand energy generation sufficiently to make an intelligent comment?

        Mind you, some years ago I'm afraid I let rip at one of them when he asserted that nuclear was unsafe because H&SE would turn a blind eye to any problems. I'm afraid I told him that I had probably met more actual people from H&SE than he ever would, and insulting hard working people on no evidence was not on. At that point I realised it's all imaginary in their heads - stuff they've read, not things they've experienced, and often seeing a tiny part of the overall picture and seeing it through distorting glasses.

        I'm extremely worried about climate change, and air, soil and water pollution. I am also no politician (partly due to an actual physical handicap.) But I detest the Greens because they seem to be trying to fix the problems by a kind of cargo cult religion - tinker here, protest there - instead of funding some serious people to do some independent work with some real scientific credibility.

        1. PT
          Mushroom

          Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

          "How many of them [the Greens] actually understand energy generation sufficiently to make an intelligent comment?"

          How many of them are interested? The hard core of Greens want to destroy industrial civilization and restore a medieval agrarian subsistence economy. It seems to me they've made a good start in Britain, with the help of the EU and brain dead politicians. "Department for Energy and Climate Change" - no conflict of interest there, I'm sure.

        2. Triggerfish

          Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

          "The Greens are very good at agitating from the sidelines but how many of them are actively engaged in developing "renewables"?"

          How many of them actually understand energy generation sufficiently to make an intelligent comment?

          Some I guess but drowned out by the shouters, who probably don't want to listen to them being realistic.

          Heard all this sort of thing before, a recent conversation about farming, which went along the lines of "something needs to be done about farming", but when you ask about it all it was is a facebook post a sense there are some issues and actually no real understanindg of them. When I pressed said person all they could reiterate was the issue about farming needing something done, not even a clue about what it was that needed to be done in any more specifri form than that.

          They tend to get irritated when you ask questions that drill down into a subject like you are trying to make them look like an idiot. I ask why do I need to try?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

      "we could be world leaders in renewables!!" he cried...

      Ok, fair point. With sufficient research we could be...

      Just remember what happened to South Australia where too much renewables destabilised the grid and caused a state wide blackout.

      The Germans discovered that much over 15% renewable energy caused big problems a few years ago. Yet the eco-greens will never learn the maxim that renewables can not supply base load.

      1. 42

        Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

        Nope, tornadoes from a supercell storm blew down 23 275kv pylons that caused the SA failiure, sorry to bust your denialist bubble.

    4. MR J

      Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

      Personally I think Hink C was the wrong move, at least on its own and now.

      The way these projects run I doubt we will see any generation until at least 2030, as the story points out we are out of juice now!. The greens are correct in stating that we should be researching "clean" energy, but by no means will that cover the UK or any other large nation in any respectable time.

      Fusion research would have been the way to go, 20 years ago.. Fission reactors should have been built over the past 10 years to increase the base capacity.

      Smart Grids should have been designed with the subsidy for Solar PV, and Wind Turbines. There should have been requirements to feed indirectly into the grid using battery systems that would provide a small buffer in the storage. It is my understanding that many Wind systems now actually store the power and deploy it on demand.

      Renewables and Clean energy is not the devil here. The devil is that plans should have been going on 10 or 20 years ago to deal with today. Today it is here and now someone is forced to deal with it.

      Bear in mind that "Natural Gas" power stations here were viewed as a great thing, and "Fracking" was going to come along and save the UK. The thing is that "Fracking" in the USA and Canada see's the owners of the land "generally" the "Royalties" from the product. In the UK it goes to the "Royal" people. The great economic "Boom" wouldn't go along with it, consumers wouldn't pass money back into that system. So while they could be a good or great thing, gas for them would need to be imported.

      I have solar panels, and I do benefit from "everyone" who has to buy electricity. The price I am paid for it is around 50p per KWH, that is a lot less than the strike price for HinkC, and new solar installs are perhaps only 1/5th of what mine is... What all of these systems need is storage - then they become really useful. My solar panels probably add somewhere around 0.6% additional cost to the UK bill (Including my own bill!). So Solar and Wind subsidies have increased your bill by less than 1%, but HinkC will cost you a good bit more than that - If it ever gets built!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

        "Fusion research would have been the way to go, 20 years ago"

        I agree we should have been expanding fission capacity, but fusion? There are very, very few nuclei that can be used for a fusion reactor - basically hydrogens 1, 2 and 3 and helium - and the technical problems are very large indeed and well known. At the moment there is simply no approach that has a good chance of being remotely economic compared to fission, in at least a 20 year timescale, and in fact the main approach being explored is a fusion - fission reactor with a uranium blanket for the neutrons, and a bad case of tritium deficit. Fusion research is a story of running into walls - and yes, that's a deliberate comment.

        Established fission designs still find the odd new and exciting way to go wrong. Look at how long it took to develop satisfactory steam boilers in the 18th and 19th century; so many technologies have to advance before some improvements can occur that it involves more or less the entire R&D resources of civilisation.

        For the next fifty years or so improving fission as a baseload generator alongside renewables and gas seems to me to be the best way to keep the lights on so that we do have a civilisation able to use fusion, if it ever happens.

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

        > I have solar panels, and I do benefit from "everyone" who has to buy electricity.

        And therein lies the rub. You are, to put it mildly, "well off" - you'd have to be to be able to afford the system. Or as a relative put it when ordering his, "if they're offering free money, I'll have some of that".

        But your panels are part of the problem, and that you only include the FIT that you get in the economics is also part of the problem - it's the same "sleight of hand" the windmill apologists use.

        The article is fairly well balanced actually - and makes the point that when your panels are in bright sunshine, something else (mostly OCGT) must "close the taps" a little; conversely, when the sun goes down or a cloud goes over, something elsewhere must "open the taps" a little.

        So when you are generating, you are taking away income from an operator of a gas turbine - but that same operator is expected to be there to cover for when you can't supply anything. In addition, by having to start and stop more frequently, and ramp up output quite a lot at times, the wear and tear on the equipment is much higher which puts the running costs up at the same time as his total output is reduced - double whammy for increased per-unit lecky costs. Question for you, how much contribution do your panels make to the evening peak, on one of those cold dark, windless winter evenings when (in Dec 2010) we came very close to running out of reserve ? Answer - SFA !

        So the true cost of your panels is not the FIT you see (or the ROCs for windmills), it also includes the higher per-unit cost of the lecky produced by the gas turbine operator, and the availability payments made to them to persuade them to stay open. That is a significant cost - and one that both the wind and sunshine lobbies are very quiet on, to the extent that you could call it being dishonest. And for those infrequent, but real, periods when demand is really high and renewables really do produce SFA - we end up with diesel because the capital is cheap, and they can sit around for long periods doing nothing but wait for them to be needed.

        And don't expect France to save us via the cross channel interconnector. At the same time as we are in the dark, so will most of Europe, all having to import power from those countries still able to produce something. So Germany will be importing from Poland where they burn a lot of coal. Everyone will be hoping that France has some of it's nuclear power to spare, but generally will all have our gas turbines run up to max - and fingers crossed that nothing trips out.

        Of course, give it a few more years and that latter situation will be dealt with - those (so called) "smart" meters are primarily there to allow for more fine grained rolling blackouts. As a kid we thought it was fun in the 70s - I don't think we would now with our much higher reliance on lecky.

        BTW - I'm changing my consumer unit soon, and while I'm at it I'll be adding a generator input facility (then these green policies can result in my running a small and definitely non-green petrol genny to keep the lights on).

    5. itzman

      Re: we could be world leaders in renewables..

      Why ever would we want to be?

      That's a bit like wanting to be the first lemming over the cliff..

    6. Vendicar Decarian1

      Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...

      "Ok, fair point. With sufficient research we could be," - Coward.

      You are two decades too late.

      China is the world leader in renewable power, and will remain on top for the rest of your, and your children's lives.

      Denial of reality has economic costs.

  3. PyLETS
    FAIL

    "A winter in which the wind doesn't blow"

    That seems a less probable apocalypse theory than a tsunami in the Bristol Channel submerging Hinkley Point. Windless during winter for a few days is likely, making P2G use of the gas grid for electricity storage likely to be needed to avoid the rather more than the £466/household cost/household in climate change externalities, particularly if your house is at risk of flooding.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_Channel_floods,_1607

    As to lights going out scare stories being used to try to jump start rusty agendas, seen this all before.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "A winter in which the wind doesn't blow"

      Unfortunately, it's quite common for the the whole of Europe to suffer week long (or longer) still periods when a high pressure parks itself over Europe in the depths of a very cold spell. This happened a few years ago (I remember it never went above freezing where we are for a couple of weeks) and will happen again.

      Have a look at http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ and you'll see that there have been quite a few times in the past year where wind has contributed just about nothing over the whole of the UK.

      Remember last year (I think) when the greens harped on about wind producing more than Nuclear for a day? They failed to mention that was because it was very windy over the whole UK and there were a lot of nuclear plants off line at the same time for maintenance (they go off grid about once every three years). They also never mention when nuclear is producing 20 times what wind is...

      1. Mark 65

        Re: "A winter in which the wind doesn't blow"

        @AC: How dare you come in here touting your anti-wind agenda with cold hard facts. Heresy says I. If you didn't read it on a frothing greenist blog it didn't happen.

        If the world wants low carbon then we are looking at a mix of nuclear, gas, and renewables else it isn't going to happen.

      2. Vic

        Re: "A winter in which the wind doesn't blow"

        They failed to mention that was because it was very windy over the whole UK

        For wind to work, it needs not to be "very windy", but rather "suitably windy".

        If the wind gets too strong, the blades get feathered and the turbines shut down...

        Vic.

  4. smartypants

    Storage as a service

    ... Is the missing piece of the story here.

    We still lack a cheap way to smooth out the difference between varying supply and demand over days.

    For renewables to be the future, this needs to be sorted,but I don't see anything on the horizon that will solve this problem at scale in the next decade.

    Perhaps some sort of 'national Elastic band' stretched between John o'groats and lands end which gets twisted when it's windy and untwists when calm.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Storage as a service

      For short-ish term use, pumped storage is still I believe the best option in the UK, and I'm sure there are plenty of places suitable for use. I have a document somewhere which was issued when they propsed building Dinorwic power station which also proposed a second site on (IIRC) Exmoor, or perhaps it was Dartmoor. It wasn't built because it wasn't needed; at the time we had all the base load covered by coal and nuclear, and Dinorwic's fast response was enough to tide the system over until gas plant could spool up.

      Dinorwic is by far the largest of its kind in the UK and there a loads of much smaller schemes (for example, just up the road from Dinorwic at Ffestiniog, but surely we have plenty of options in the hilly parts of the country for more large stations to be built? It's not even as if they need be unsightly.

      Why doesn't anyone talk about pumped storage any more? It seems to me to be the perfect way of smoothing the output from wind and sun.

      M.

      1. Floydian Slip

        Re: Storage as a service

        I used to really like the concept of pumped storage but apparently there's a hidden problem - methane, which is a significantly worse greenhouse gas than CO2.

        And pumped storage systems generate much more methane than originally believed simply because the more stagnant nature of the water leads to increased decomposition. Wish I could remember where I read the report earlier this week but the source escapes me

      2. smartypants

        Re: Storage as a service

        I'll have to dig it out another time, but I remember reading that Dinorwig is only really useful for short term spikes like everyone rushing for the kettle. To be able to run with renewables alone, ideally we'd need to store many days of a significant percentage of total demand... A different scale altogether.

      3. Todge

        Re: Storage as a service

        I read a paper somewhere that in order to supply the UK's power needs for a week in winter you would need a pumped storage scheme the size of Wales.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Storage as a service

      No, there isn't a solution at scale in the next decade. There are many different research projects underway, but as usual we started funding this far too late.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Storage as a service

        as usual we started funding this far too late

        Ah, magic Lefty thinking. If we simply pour money into venal green technology it will somehow magically produce the desired result, even when the laws of physics show its theoretically impossible, and the laws of engineering show its outrageously expensive by its very nature

        There is a very good reason why no one poured money into large scale storage, and that's because it cant be made to work at the price, and no one was subsidising it. No one would have poured money into solar panels and windmills either, if they hadn't been carried away by carefully crafted eco-porn and other commercial propaganda.

        And the nation would be in a far far better place if no one had.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Storage as a service

          "... even when the laws of physics show its theoretically impossible, and the laws of engineering show its outrageously expensive by its very nature ...

          I'm quite positive that when the physicists prove that it's impossible, us engineers wouldn't bother trying to build it.

          So what is it, actually impossible or just very, very expensive?

    3. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Energy Storage

      Lightsail Energy (http://www.lightsail.com/) has a scheme to store large amounts of energy in compressed air.

      Their ingenious twist is that the heat of compression is extracted and is also stored (as opposed to being wasted). This stored heat energy is later re-injected when the compressed air is decompressed (when it naturally cools, due to PV=nRT of course). This re-heating of the air helps it to expand, making the whole process far more efficient.

      Presented for consideration.

      PS. It's worth clicking to the team and reading up on Dr. Danielle Fong. She began university at 12, began her PhD at age 17. Etc. Very impressive. I believe that I've seen her, years ago, at her family's restaurant, sitting at a table, doing her homework, when she was a little kid. I didn't know it at the time, but the kid's homework was probably advanced calculus. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danielle_Fong)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Energy Storage

        Lightsail Energy (http://www.lightsail.com/) has a scheme to store large amounts of energy in compressed air.

        Speaking as an employee of foreign owned Big 6 energy retailer, I'd like to report that we invested in research into this in my company's home country years ago. We have working grid scale plants NOW. The problem is that they simply aren't viable when you add through the cost of construction, utilisation rates, and the multiple losses that you incur across each conversion stage. End to end efficiency is about 65% in the real world, so you throw away a third of the energy you put in (and that won't change unless you can recover low grade adiabatic losses plus the inherent conversion losses at each stage, which seems unlikely). And how often will this plant be cycled?

        That's the Achille's heel of all storage. If you can cycle daily, you get 365 cycles per year for your capital investment. If you cycle every other day that's halved, and your capital costs DOUBLE. Now consider wind energy storage that might cycle completely 52 times a year. Your capital costs have quadrupled...and so forth.

        Now, storage works great for short term peaks (where costs are irrelevant and performance counts, as in the recent National Grid EFR auction, though costs were well below expectations). And it works brilliantly if you can cycle daily. But for inter-week, month or seasonal storage, the only storage that makes sense is chemical storage, and that has too low efficiency end to end. And, again, my employers have spent many millions proving that point.

        In so many ways I'm immensely proud of my employers. And then I look at their fuckwitted commercial management, risk aversion, total absence of leadership top to bottom, and I'm so bloody angry.

        It's the big red one, by the way. AC for obvious reasons.

        1. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          Re: Energy Storage

          AC "...End to end efficiency is about 65% in the real world..."

          Was that 65% *with* the extraction and separate storage of the heat of compression as per Lightsail?

          Or without?

          I didn't think that their concept had yet been commercialized. So if not, then the 65% is the 'before' figure and the 'after' (implementing heat storage) will be much better.

          Yes, capital cost matters.

          Plus, the total footprint should be compared to natural gas turbines. It'd be silly to have a 'renewable' scheme that actually has a larger total footprint than just burning a wee bit of gas once in a while.

          Pragmatism is essential. 'Renewables as a religion' should now be a capital offense.

          1. Commswonk Silver badge

            Re: Energy Storage

            'Renewables as a religion' should now be a capital offense.

            That got you my upvote.

    4. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Storage as a service

      Wind farm being used to power a pumped-storage hydro station would work pretty well.

      I've also seen projects where a wind generator is hooked up to a miniaturized electrolysis-based hydrogen/oxygen generator. The collected gases are then burned in a fuel cell or in a regular boiler for a power station.

      Wind is much like a waiter at a restaurant, always there when you need them the least and never there when you actually need them.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Storage as a service

      WOULD be the answer if there were any technology remotely capable of providing it.

      AS it is, take a useless technology like intermittent renewable energy, then treble its cost by constructing massively underutilised interconnectors, and storage units everywhere, and you call that a success?

      Renewable energy is already far more expensive than the most overpriced and bloated nuclear project, so we should add to its expense to ameliorate its fundamentally flawed nature?

      I have a turd for you to polish.

  5. Richard Wharram

    Greens just don't understand numbers

    Build more storage, they cry

    What storage, is the reply

    Duh. Pushing water uphill. Look it's already done all over the world, they retort

    Someone crunches the numbers and finds that Britain would need 390 more Dinorwigs which don't actually exist so it would require large quantities of dynamite and the biggest structural engineering project in the history of the world...

    Ah, but, never mind that, can we just talk about how wind and solar are a bit cheaper than nuclear in some countries again please?

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

      Sorry, I hadn't seen yours when I posted mine, and I'll admit I posted mine without considering the real numbers...

      Someone crunches the numbers and finds that Britain would need 390 more Dinorwigs

      Interesting point. I believe Dinorwig is capable of 1.3GW for five hours? I also believe there's a total of about 13GW installed wind capacity in the UK, so logically you'd need 10 Dinorwigs to replace a complete loss of wind for up to five hours, or 50 to do so for a whole day. Your 390 stations could power the country for about a windless week.

      It still strikes me as a better storage plan than anything else that's been proposed, but I have to admit here that I'm totally in favour of a few more nuclear stations.

      Dinorwig is limited by the size of the top lake. If you could build another Dinorwig but give it a bigger lake you would change the equation. There must be places suitable...

      M.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

        Dinorwig is limited by the size of the top lake. If you could build another Dinorwig but give it a bigger lake you would change the equation. There must be places suitable...

        Must there? Where?

        Apart from anything else if the reservoir at Dinorwig was doubled, the immediate result would be that the power needed to recharge the reservoir would be automatically doubled as well. The big downside of Pumped Storage is that it needs pumping, and that needs power generated by other means.

        I, for one, do not believe in perpetual motion machines.

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

          I have just realised that there is a further flaw in the statement Dinorwig is limited by the size of the top lake. If you could build another Dinorwig but give it a bigger lake you would change the equation.

          For pumped storage to work there has to be a suitable "sump" which must hold the water after it has been forced through the turbines by gravity; without that sump there would be no water left to pump back up to the reservoir for later use. So doubling the capacity of the header tank would have to be accompanied by a doubling of the size of the sump, as well as doubling the energy required to pump the water back up again as previously mentioned.

          I'm sure the UK is just riddled with suitable sites... not.

          To be fair you would certainly change the equation but not in any way that could be described as remotely helpful.

        2. Roj Blake Silver badge

          Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

          There are other methods of storing energy - such as using the surplus to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into methane. It's not particularly efficient but at least you can use existing gas infrastructure to store, transport, and use it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:There must be places suitable...

        There are. In Norway. Canada. New Zealand. On Europa, Saturn, Mercury.

        There just aren't any suitable in the (dis)United kingdom.

        I did work out that if we pumped out Loch Ness completely to the sea, refilling it might run the country for a month or so (electricity only) but it would cost more than 10 nuclear power stations and put Nessie at risk of species extinction.

        Of course reneable energy, as in hydro, holds the record for killing the most people in any energy related accident. More than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

        Which brings me to another point. Britain uses IIRC about 3-5 Hiroshima sized energy releases per day to power the grid.

        Do you want to live down stream from that amount of stored energy? To get turnround efficiency implies that there is very little 'resistance' to letting it all out in a bug moment.

        There is of course one way energy is stored that is highly compact, cheap and very very safe, as the energy is hard to extract, and its called a uranium, plutonium of thorium nucleus, and they come pre charged in huge numbers at stupidly low prices.

        Which is of course why Greens dont like them. No skin in the game for green rent seekers.

    2. PyLETS

      Cheaper storage than pushing water uphill

      P2G (Power to Gas) will almost certainly become a much cheaper form of storage, though won't ever be as efficient as pumped storage. Given spot price ratios between expensive electricity at more than 2.0, the efficiency loss inherent in P2G at a say 50% efficiency ratio doesn't matter very much, though best available designs look closer to 70%. The problem with the pumped storage is that the cost gets higher once the best sites have been developed, while the cost of P2G, like that of wind electricity, will improve with scale.

      Interestingly, the best places to locate P2G plants are more likely to be adjacent to biomass renewable electricity generators than wind generators, due to the continuous availablity of electricity and renewable CO2 feedstock at the same location.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_gas

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: 390 Dinorwigs

      Except they'd need to be a dam site deeper because windless periods can last a whole lot longer than the few hours that these kinds of plant can actually run for at full capacity.

      (And yes, damn pedants, I know...)

    4. kmac499

      Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

      The sadly lost David Mckays "Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air" should be required reading for anyone interested in energy. All his observations are beautifully argued with quantitative figures. with nuclear being a big part of his solution (it's still downloadable btw,).

      As far as the UK becoming a world leader goes, Buying in Uranium based PWRs is just dumb, the weapons proliferation, waste and extreme operating environment they use are just too expensive to manage. Thorium cycle machines seem to solve most of those problems and if we were to go into partnership with China and India that would be a world beater

      If that is too ambitious I reckon that the technology and manufacture of renewables generation is pretty much worked out, but storage systems at the local level are still up for grabs. In the same way as every small town had it's own gas-works in the 19thC maybe a local storage\smoothing works for electricity could be a growth industry for the 21stC

      There's even room for a bit of synergy, if we had molten salt thorium reactors and molten salt storage a lot of shared technology.

      1. asdf

        Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

        >Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air" ... with nuclear

        Nuclear isn't super long term sustainable though. Think I remember we have enough for several thousand years at our current power usage but much like the number of humans power usage is going to continue to climb (and well after population levels out). Guess that buys some time at least. Think I remember reading also we have at least 500 years of coal at our current power usage but that carbon ain't getting pulled out of the ground. Those days are gone.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

          Several thousand years of uranium-based nuclear fission is effectively forever.

          Because it is long enough to be completely replaced by some technology whose physics we currently barely understand.

          Or large-scale fusion, whichever comes first!

        2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

          > Nuclear isn't super long term sustainable though. Think I remember we have enough for several thousand years at our current power usage but much like the number of humans power usage is going to continue to climb

          But, I forget the numbers, we already have in storage in the UK enough fuel to last us something like a whole century even if we generated all our lecky from nuclear. The problem is that we don't treat all this fuel as what it is - but instead we label it as waste and spend vast amounts of money to get rid of it. That's like taking every tanker ship that comes into port, sending perhaps 2% of it's cargo to the refinery, and labelling the rest as waste to be expensively got rid of !

          Yes, that is what we do with out nuclear fuel ! The problem, as always, are those "educated" by the hysterical media into believing that this is waste and not fuel. That same media, thanks guys, has made the population even more scared of the P word (Plutonium) than they are of the N word (Nuclear) - and so the sort of reactors that can use this "waste" as fuel are politically untenable due to the fact that they produce (but later burn) plutonium.

      2. viscount

        David MacKay

        +1 for the late David MacKay's "Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air", available as a real book or to read for free at:

        https://www.withouthotair.com/

        It shows how a future low carbon UK might work with real science and numbers. Great stuff.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: David MacKay

          With respect to David, who was a real good guy, and someone I knew personally, he only got to first base with that book, and it failed to tackle the second issue of renewable energy, namely intermittency. (It really is a detailed analysis of energy usage and the energy density of 'renewables')

          Neither was David as green or keen on renewable energy as the green puffers think he was. IN his final interview before his death, he came out and said what he really thought. What he whispered in my ear at a rather Green Cambridge party when I asked him what really was the answer to Britain's energy needs.

          Nuclear power was in fact the only answer.

          WE corresponded a little while he was at DECC. One plaintive cry came :"Do you know anyone who cam exp[lain to a bunch of politicians the concept of intermittency".

          Apparently Chris Huhne had stormed out of DECC and not been seen for a fortnight after having the realities of renewable energy explained to him.

          It is amusing and also depressing to see yet more people starting from the same place we all started from - 'hey, renewable energy sounds like a cool proposition' - and travel slowly and more haltingly the same road that David, myself, and many others have travelled, to examine and discard one 'solution' after another, and come in the end all to the same conclusions. Nuclear power isn't an alternative to fossil fuel.

          Its the ONLY alternative.

          Of course we are not immediately short of fossil fuel and frackable gas looks like a useful UK option, and of course anthropogenic climate change* is all bunk anyway, so we dont need nuclear just yet...

          * it is admitted that building cities round thermometers does lead to increasing temperature readings on them.

          1. Danny 14

            Re: David MacKay

            For people harping on about PV at home, how long to pay back and what if you want to move house?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: David MacKay

            "Neither was David as green or keen on renewable energy as the green puffers think he was."

            He was keen on facts, numbers, and logic, rather than faith. Science and engineering works better when built on something more substantial than faith. The rest follows sort of automatically. Politics and economics is generally built on faith, and as a result, so is the UK's market-driven energy supply system. Not good.

            "Do you know anyone who cam exp[lain to a bunch of politicians the concept of intermittency".

            There does seem to be a problem with that little issue. "The market" seems to have been built around the concept that a MWh of electricity that might or might not be available when you want it is worth the same as a MWh that will be there come hell or high water. Even ticket touts understand the concept of matching supply and demand...

            "IN his final interview before his death, he came out and said what he really thought."

            It was also requested that people don't selectively quote that interview without context. So here's where to find the full thing:

            http://www.marklynas.org/2016/04/david-mackay-last-interview-tribute/

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

        To those who have actually studied the iuiusses, Thorium doesnt eliminate the problems, it changes the problems, thats all.

        And really, there isn't a waste problem anyway. Like climate change, and Hammer films, its largely a product of human desire to scare itself to death.

        LIkewise Nuclear material in terrorism makes no sense at all. Except insofar as it is nuclear, and it is scary by dint of propaganda. Ergo stealing a quantity of hot fizzing U232 from a thorium reactor and spraying it all over Bethnal Green would be far more damaging than setting off a plutonium tactical nuke in Westminster.,

        Assuming you could make one, which is very hard.

    5. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

      Build more storage, they cry

      As well they might. However, quite apart from the shortage of places where "Dinorwig" could be replicated there is the point that such schemes require more power to pump the reservoir up again than it delivered in the first place. No machine is 100% efficient; the Laws of Thermodynamics see to that.

      So where is the power to recharge the reservoir to come from? What happens if the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow?

      More elderly and "fuel impoverished" people die, but I doubt if the Greens have really considered that.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

      I'm ready for the inevitable 'brown outs' that will hit us. Mabye not this year or next but they will come.

      I have a 6Kw PV array on my house. This feeds the grid and charges a load of car batteries. When the power goes out, I'll have my own version of a Tesla Powerwall ready to go. With the current battery setup I can get 8-10 hours unless I want to do any cooking outside of the Microwave.

      If more of us did this then the brownouts will be shorter and you would pay a lot less to the leecy companies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

        Personally I have a wood burning fire and a camping gaz stove, and that will last a week or so, with candles.

        I'll probably smell a bit .

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The UK pays more for diesel at the pump than anyone else in Europe, and the owners of STOR get paid for keeping the generators working but idle."

    What has the price at the pump got to do with it? Generators run on Gas Oil.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Standby generators that are commonly referred to as "diesels" don't necessarily run on diesel fuel or even gas oil. GE Jenbacher engines can quite happily be connected up to a standard natural gas supply and burn methane while generating. The "diesel" refers to the prime mover being a diesel cycle engine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Diesel "price at the pump" graphic

      "What has the price at the pump got to do with it?"

      Quite. If anything, that graphic shows that the UK doesn't have the most expensive diesel in Europe before the Government takes its slice of the pump price. And industrial and agricultural diesel users don't pay the pump price. Odd.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    glad I just filled our CH oil tank. Only paid 35p\l which by modern standards was a bargain! I think it went as low as around 30p\l back in June\july, saying that I paid 18p\l about 12 years ago

  8. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Ignore the externalities, as usual

    More of both sources would be the optimal cost effective energy strategy.

    Which completely ignores the costs and risks of nuclear waste storage, still unsolved after 60 years, and the costs of climate change mitigation.

    Don't worry, our children can pay for all that, just as long as the lights stay on this winter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ignore the externalities, as usual

      Don't worry, our children can pay for all that, just as long as the lights stay on this winter.

      You Luddite. In fact you IGNORANT Luddite. The vast costs of nuclear decommissioning in the UK are largely due to the reckless and dirty weapons programmes of the fifties and sixties. Nuclear power decommissioning is a walk in the park.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Ignore the externalities, as usual

      Ignore reality, as usual.

      If the lights don't stay on then there won't be many children anyway, because the poor will die.

      Although it's generally the elderly poor who die first, which I suppose would reduce the load on the NHS.

      This is why it matters.

    3. Jon 37
      Boffin

      Re: Ignore the externalities, as usual

      The greenies and NIMBYs always argue against nuclear waste storage "because we should be building renewables not more nuclear power plants" and "oh but this waste will still be dangerous in thousands of years". Which kind of ignores the fact that we *already* have a large amount of nuclear waste sitting around in "temporary" storage that really needs to go *somewhere* designed for long-term storage. And once we've built a decent waste repository for that, building it twice the size to allow for waste generated in future is actually fairly straightforward.

      The greenies also like to argue "we shouldn't build nuclear waste storage" and then the next day they argue "we shouldn't build nuclear power plants because we haven't figured out what to do with the waste". Well, that's because you campaigned against all the proposals...

      1. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: Ignore the externalities, as usual

        And almost all the problems at Sellafield are down to those decisions in the past that resulted in waste being dumped in tanks and left for too long. THORP should have been a world class reprocessing facility but the Greens, NMIMBYs, incompetent (and short sighted) politicians and management hamstrung by changing ideology have left it wanting.

        Plutonium and the highly toxic waste associated with its production is a result of the need (political) to develop nuclear bombs.

        Add to that the rush to decommission Magnox before any realistic replacement was commissioned and it is not difficult to see why the situation is as it is. Despite increased efficiencies, demand for power just keeps rising and renewables simply cannot provide what is needed with a population density the UK has.

        Importing gas derived from Fracking in the US is just insane. Huge areas in the US are suffering as a result of Fracking and other hydro-based extraction technologies that are just being buried because it is in poor areas.

    4. itzman

      Re: Ignore the externalities, as usual

      Nuclear waste storage has never been a problem. Anti nuclear propaganda however has proved insuperable.

  9. allenschaeffer

    Hard to get it right - the science of supply and demand when it comes to power. When you need it you don't have it. When you don't want it you have a surplus.

    Good to know however that at the end of the day there is a plan to ensure continuous supply of electricity; afterall economies and public health and safety depend on it. Kind of important.

    BTW... Have all news posts and stories in the UK referencing diesel just automatically added the word dirty in front?

    Diesel generators can be clean. - the newest generation have advanced emissions controls and can achieve near zero emissions of both NOx and PM. There's a cost of course. Older units obviously have higher emissions.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      do you work for VW by any chance?

      Clean Diesels?

      And pigs might fly.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: do you work for VW by any chance?

        Stationary engines under continous load can be stupendously efficient and have incredibly low emissions.

        Mobile engines, small engines and those under wildly varying load are generally inefficient and dirty.

        Guess which type is in a car and which is in a generator set?

        1. Vic

          Re: do you work for VW by any chance?

          Stationary engines under continous load can be stupendously efficient

          Not really. All heat engines have an absolute maximum theoretical efficiency of 1 - TC/TH.

          For the temperatures involved in any practical engine, the efficiencies still stink, even if they beat yer average car engine...

          Vic.

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: do you work for VW by any chance?

        @Steve Davies 3

        As allenschaeffer claims modern Diesel engines have become better and better and can achieve near zero emissions. So far that technology comes with the large engines only.

        As you mentioned VW, this study by Transport & Environment.

        Dieselgate 1st anniversary: all diesel car brands in Europe are even more polluting than Volkswagen - study

        https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/dieselgate-1st-anniversary-all-diesel-car-brands-europe-are-even-more-polluting-volkswagen

        Which of course means VW is the least polluting* diesel in Europe, which of course, doesn't change the Dieselgate but makes one wonder about all those other brands in that chart too. Well read the article.

        *The glass is half full or half empty.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Diesel generators can be clean

      In this context, they shouldn't need to be, because the whole point of peaking plant is that it rarely runs. The article is correct that due to the imbecilic strategy of adding large volumes of intermittent generating plant to the grid, we will now need more peaking plant, and it will run more often and will inherently be less efficient, but even so, as part of a mix of technologies for peaking plant diesel farms are unfairly demonised.

      However, we're certainly on the road to high priced hell. The "renewables" destabilise the grid. The article doesn't describe how close we've come over the summer to brown outs for broadly similar reasons, but its happening more and more as the pell-mell build out of eco-toys continues. And then we've got the government signing up for Hinkley Point, and utter, utter idiots are therefore locking in what used to be peak power prices to baseload. That is a hugely important issue that has been widely overlooked.

      Now, as you note, the diesel plant could be cleaned up at a cost. But if it doesn't run often, then that's a luxury that we cannot really afford. Of course, in all of this talk of "dirty diesels", the hippies are remarkably silent about the appalling air quality on the all-electric London Underground.

  10. Velv Silver badge

    "The UK pays more for diesel at the pump than anyone else in Europe"

    Which is completely irrelevant to the story as fuels used for generation aren't bought at the pump and are subject to entirely different taxation

  11. Chris Miller

    Diesel prices

    I don't think gennies are run on DERV, presumably red diesel?

  12. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Rather ominously they've launched a new 105 number for power cuts and sent out leaflets telling you what you should have in preparation for outages. I think someone somewhere is expecting a rather harsh winter and the lights to be out more often than we've ever experienced before due to demand. Be prepared!

    1. MOV r0,r0

      You too huh? Brownouts don't happen often enough or for long enough to need a dedicated helpline besides which most people know who their supplier is. www.powercut105.com - something to take the flak when the inevitable occurs?

      Next it will be, 'your failure to install personal generation equipment and/or off-peak storage batteries has lead to the triggering of your smart meter kill switch during periods of high demand. It is your responsibility to make supplementary provision as the national grid cannot be relied upon to provide power at all times'

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Brownouts don't really work anymore

        Much of the domestic and industrial load is now constant-power, so just draws more current if the voltage drops.

        Disconnectable contracts - and "rolling blackouts" - work better and the last National Grid report I read said that they expect to use them considerably more often in the coming years.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Brownouts don't really work anymore

          "Much of the domestic and industrial load is now constant-power, so just draws more current if the voltage drops."

          Indeed. Also, if it's a thermostatically controlled device (eg for heating), if the voltage reduces and the heat output also reduces, the device is likely to just run for longer before switching off. Thus the energy consumption doesn't actually reduce as the voltage reduces, and on average over an hour or whatever and thousands of appliances, the power consumption also doesn't reduce as the voltage reduces.

          Brownouts may have worked for demand management when uncontrolled resistive loads were a large proportion of the demand. That is no longer the case.

          Interesting times ahead.

          This little sub-discussion is far more relevant than the pointless graphic re the pump price of diesel fuel.

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: Brownouts don't really work anymore

            > Also, if it's a thermostatically controlled device (eg for heating), if the voltage reduces and the heat output also reduces, the device is likely to just run for longer before switching off

            It depends on timescales.

            It is a valid management technique for those "couple of minute" events - such as the gap between a big generator tripping and getting some replacement capacity spun up (and/or got some interruptible loads switched off). And immediate drop in voltage will create an immediate drop in load - the effects of thermostats being one for longer won't necessarily show up for a minute or two and will be phased in (depends on the thermal inertia, stat hysteresis etc) so hopefully you'll have something else run up before you need to consider that.

            But as you say, it's only for a couple of minutes - and it has been used.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Brownouts don't really work anymore

              "and/or got some interruptible loads switched off"

              I was under the impression that disconnection of interruptible loads was already being routinely used as a peak lopping measure. I'd love to be proved wrong.

              1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

                Re: Brownouts don't really work anymore

                Correct, they are already doing that - but it takes time. I assume it's not "light go out in factory without warning" control, more like "pick up phone, call customer, tell them you're invoking their interruption clause" and then the customer deals with shutting stuff down cleanly. That takes time, and if you've just had a GW power station drop offline, you don't have that time.

                So you hit the buttons to drop supply voltages, and other buttons to fire up whatever spinning/short term reserve you have, etc.

                There is a good writeup somewhere (can't be bothered to look for it) on exactly how the grid controllers dealt with such an event in the last year or two. IIRC, they were "further bothered" by a second generator loss before they'd recovered from the first !

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Brownouts don't really work anymore

                  "how the grid controllers dealt with such an event in the last year or two. IIRC, they were "further bothered" by a second generator loss before they'd recovered from the first !"

                  The only such event I've seen written up is Sizewell/Longannet in 2008. I'd be interested in pointers to other more recent events of that kind.

                  news writeup for Joe Public

                  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7423169.stm

                  later analysis for industry insiders and observers:

                  https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2008/07/national_grid_-_system_events_of_27_may_for_dswg_16_july.pdf

                  Anyway, I'm not sure my point was clear.

                  The short term operating reserve contribution from interruptible demand is no longer available for emergency response during peak hours. It's already in use for meeting routine peak hour demand. There is no meaningful peak time spare capacity.

                  The Sizewell/Longannet outage took place in an era when interruptible demand was largely reserved for emergency response. Demand side action (interruptible demand) is now being routinely used for peak lopping and therefore isn't available for emergency response. Similarly, Dinorwig's 1.5ishGW contribution from fast response pumped storage (zero to 1.5GW in a few seconds) is already being routinely used at peak times and isn't available for emergency response.

                  See the marvellous Gridwatch website for a nice graphical presentation of where the UK's electricity comes from, today, last week, last month, last year:

                  http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

                  1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

                    Re: Brownouts don't really work anymore

                    The only such event I've seen written up is Sizewell/Longannet in 2008.

                    Blimey, I hadn't realised so much time had passed :-(

                    Anyway, I'm not sure my point was clear.

                    The short term operating reserve contribution from interruptible demand is no longer available for emergency response during peak hours. It's already in use for meeting routine peak hour demand.

                    Indeed I had missed your point.

                    You make a good point that the measures available to the controller back then are largely not available to them now when they are most likely to be needed. Still, we're busy installing new measures - we all know what smart meters are really all about !

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Brownouts don't really work anymore

                      "we all know what smart meters are really all about !"

                      Be quiet, ye tinfoil hatter. The remote controlled power-off switch that costs a fortune relative to the rest of the box is purely a decorative feature/administrative oversight/tariff-switching aid/reserved for future expansion. There's no legal power to use it. (No legal power. Geddit.)

                      Dark days ahead. And darker nights.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Renewables are important; however, they are not quite ready to replace existing energy sources, especially, in colder climates.

    I think the bigger problem is the lack of Governmental coherence on energy. There are some sectors that are too important to be left to private enterprise and energy is one of those.

  14. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Why

    "The UK pays more for diesel at the pump than anyone else in Europe".

    Looking at that Diesel Chart it's only the tax and duty that makes the UK expensive, is that not "self-inflicted, and if so why compare with Europe in this manner when in fact you seem to get Diesel very favourably. Or have I missed something related to the duty. Is Diesel imported from some foreign country like Scotland.

    With all due respect, I have to point out that the "EU directives" has started to sound as dubious as Trump's billions.

  15. Christian Berger

    That's all fine and good...

    ... but I'd think that base load is not particularly high in the UK, because thanks to Thatcher it's largely de industrialized and people in the UK tend to do things like making cups of tea at the same time with an electric kettle.

    Base load is essentially the minimum load you have on your network. If you have to many nuclear power plants, you will have to get rid of that power as you cannot regulate such power plants that quickly. (same goes for coal, BTW)

    Of course meanwhile lots of little solar power plants pop out most of the world which deliver electric power just when private homes need it.

    So essentially there is no simple solution, but to find a solution one has to consider much more than oil prices. The problem is that there is lots of FUD from many sides, but mostly from large plant operators. That's why in Germany you constantly get headlines that the power grid gets unstable during a solar eclipse and other such nonsense. If you look at the hard facts, like the frequency data, you'll see that virtually all disruptions occur at 15 minute intervals, exactly at the times when trading blocks start and end.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's all fine and good...

      ... but I'd think that base load is not particularly high in the UK, because thanks to Thatcher it's largely de industrialized and people in the UK tend to do things like making cups of tea at the same time with an electric kettle.

      Peak to base is greater in France and Germany, IIRC. But don't let facts get in the way of your point.

    2. David Pollard
      Pint

      Re: That's all fine and good...

      Information on current, daily, weekly and yearly electricity demand and production by various means is presented in neat graphical form here:

      http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

      The pint is for Gridwatch for providing a fine example of how the net should work and how important public data can be made easily accessible.

      It might be of benefit to one or two commentards if they were to buy or download.a copy of the late David MacKay's Without the hot air, which is equally lucid, and use this along with the grid data to get some understanding of the scale of the problems that must be solved in order to reduce production of carbon dioxide..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gridwatch

        The marvellous Gridwatch website now also covers France:

        http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/

        This, and the late Professor Mackay's excellent freely downloadable book of facts, numbers, and logic [1] are two essential resources for anyone who wants an informed discussion on energy futures, and in particulat the UK's energy futures.

        [1] Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air:

        https://www.withouthotair.com/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's all fine and good...

      Except your post is factually incorrect. Both coal and nuclear power plants can be ramped over wide ranges quire quickly, and before Dinorwig and before CCGT that's how the grid was regulated. It not especially efficient, but its certainly possible. And the French do it all the time with their nuclear fleet.

      Solar plalnts may pop out where energy is needed if your prime energy users are refrigeration and air conditioning, but where is heating and lighting - as it is anywhere in the temperate or Arctic zones - they fail to provide power when most needed. After dark, in winter.

      There is no evidence that grid instability is linked to trading blocks, certainly not in this country.

      I think we can therefore dismiss your post as simply more 'magic thinking' - the invention of a reality that conforms to your prejudice, rather than one based on actual researched facts, which is obviously too much effort for you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: magic thinking

        "Both coal and nuclear power plants can be ramped over wide ranges quire quickly, and before Dinorwig and before CCGT that's how the grid was regulated. It not especially efficient, but its certainly possible. And the French do it all the time with their nuclear fleet."

        Quickly relative to what?

        With a response time of hours from warm (not hot) boilers, a large coal->steam station can just about cope with the daily cycle, but would struggle to follow e.g. the tea time peak.

        Nuclear station response times depend on the design (both of the reactor and the steam circuit), but again hours is not untypical, and slower than that has historically been common - for engineering and financial reasons, nuclear stations like to be run at maximum output.

        Dinorwic on the other hand is zero to maximum (a little under 2GW) in a few seconds when pre-warned a few minutes in advance, or maybe a minute or so without advance notice. In the current market-driven regime it's not used for night->day energy storage (which was its original purpose, because nuclear couldn't follow sufficiently well) but for short term frequency management.

        The data at Gridwatch illustrates Dinorwig's role and capabilities quite clearly, as does the Dinorwic operator's website (fomerly First Hydro Corporation, now rebranded to something I can't remember), Wikipedia, etc:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station

        In between, in response time terms, are the combined cycle gas turbines and the open cycle gas turbines.

        Gridwatch has lots of fact-based info for the UK and france.

  16. Dr_N Silver badge

    Ban all private DERVs

    That'll drop the price of Satan's fuel!

  17. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

    The amount of money wasted on Hinkley (inclusive of subsidies, costs of ed-comissioning and dealing with waste) could have produced double that amount of power from artificial tidal basin hydro-electrics.

    There is more than enough shallows and mud in the Wash, Irish Sea and Cardiff bay to build them at scale and the resulting dams can be used for low cost wind (instead of putting it into water which costs a fortune) deployment. Just the Wash is more than 10000 (100x100) square miles worth of sub-25m depth. That is enough to build artificial tidal basins to generate energy for export, not just internal needs.

    While the wind may or may not blow, the tide knows no such things. It will come and go twice a day, every day for millenniums to come. All you need is to dump enough mud to form a circular "enclosure" and drop one or more a pre-cast turbine unit(s) into the newly formed dam. While the water level difference is pitiful compared to a normal hydroelectric, being able to build them at scale should take care of that.

    So the idea that greenery will fail is actually wrong. The issue is - we are building the wrong greenery.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

      While the wind may or may not blow, the tide knows no such things. It will come and go twice a day, every day for millenniums to come.

      Completely at odds with either continuous industrial processes, or the human body's diurnal clock. So better fact in in the storage costs for when high tide is at 01:00.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

        A High tide of 01:00 on the West side of the UK will not be the same state of tide on the east.

        Go look at tide tables and see what I mean if you don't believe me.

        Find High tide Times for say Liverpool and Dover.

        IMHO, more river powered generators (especially on the Severn) would provide a very distributed set of power generation. Sure not many MW but they will run day in day out and cost very little once installed.

        The Thames alone had more than 20 water mills upstream of Teddington.

        I does not take a genious to imagine bringing the head of water (ie weirs) that exist to this day and generating power from it.

        Renewable Yes

        Works 24/7 Yes and even when the wind does not blow.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

          Works 24/7 Yes and even when the wind does not blow.

          But will NOT supply base load especially when you only get usable power for 17 hours a day.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

          I does not take a genious to imagine bringing the head of water (ie weirs) that exist to this day and generating power from it.

          No, it takes an illiterate and innumerate bloody fool.

          Why do you think we abandoned the wind mill and the water mill the moment we had steam engines?

          Shheesh. An engineer is someone who can make for 5 bob what any damned fool can make for a quid.

          Or a green can fail to make for a £5m subsidy.

        3. David Pollard

          Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

          The Thames alone had more than 20 water mills upstream of Teddington. I does not take a genious to imagine bringing the head of water (ie weirs) that exist to this day and generating power from it.

          The average flow in the Thames at Oxford is about 20 cubic metres per second, 60 cubic metres per second at Windsor. The fall over the 95 miles or so that the river meanders to reach Teddington from Oxford is about 185 feet. Only a portion of the energy can be extracted without causing silting, and conversion efficiency will not be high. In total one might somewhat hopefully expect to extract an average gross power of the order of 50 tons/second falling through 10 metres.

          Now I may have done the sums wrong, but this looks to me like 5 MW; maybe 3.5 MW delivered.

          The problem with hydroelectricity, as David MacKay's work shows, is that while it may be useful in particularly suitable situations the energy density is not terribly good. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to work out what the capital cost of generating energy from the Thames in the way might be, and what environmental costs such a scheme would likely entail.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

            " while it may be useful in particularly suitable situations the energy density is not terribly good. "

            Fact packed twenty minute video of the late Professor Mackay on energy density of the various options for the UK:

            https://www.ted.com/talks/david_mackay_a_reality_check_on_renewables?language=en

            Mackay also has an interesting white paper on the applicability of tidal lagoons to combining tidal generation and pumped storage:

            http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/abstracts/Lagoons.html

            And he's numerate and can do facts and logic, rather than being largely faith-based.

            1. David Pollard

              Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

              An Archimedean screw generator went into operation on the Thames at Osney Lock in Oxford in 2014. The site is as good as it gets. The total cost was £700,000, maximum output is 49 kW and anticipated typical annual energy generation is 179,000 kWh or more.

              http://www.osneylockhydro.co.uk/

              This scheme has an expected lifetime of half a century or longer. It will produce an average of about 20 kW so the capital cost is £35,000 per kW. If interest, maintenance and depreciation could be covered by 5% on capital this would amount to about 20p per kWh. Presumably the Environment Agency would also be looking for commensurate sums for their Abstraction Licence if such schemes became widespread.

              In the TED talk linked above by A/C, David MacKay suggests our total energy use in the UK is 125 kWh per person per day. So Osney Hydro's output is equivalent to about four people's total energy consumption, the provision of which would cost them £175,000 each.

              The scheme is terribly green and the promoters I'm sure are terribly well-meaning, but for my money I think our dependence on fossil fuel could be replaced sooner, less expensively and rather more effectively by investing in small modular reactors, and thorium and Gen IV research.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

        Completely at odds with either continuous industrial processes, or the human body's diurnal clock.

        A tidal plant does not just generate only when the tide is high or low. It generates all the time (albeit not at max capacity) between high tide and a point where the level outside and inside equalizes. This is "on water flowing out".

        That may or may not be the point in the middle between high and low tide, depending on the rate at which water is let out of the basin.

        It after that, similarly, generates all the time while the level inside is lower than the level outside (depending on actual rate). This is generating on "water flowing in". Overall, a tidal basin plant alone will generate ~ 16 hours a day. Several can cover 24x7 - all you need to stagger the moment they start emptying/filling.

        And most importantly - it cannot f*** blow up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

          And most importantly - it cannot f*** blow up.

          No, it can do worse.

          Water behind a dam is extremely dangerous.

          Google Banqiao

          I cant think actually of any power technology that can 'blow up' apart from large storage of LPG or LNG.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: They could have build 10 GW scale tidal plants for the same amount of money

      Just last week I went to a talk on the Swansea one that's getting under way around now.

      Yes, it's a good technology, and yes it could provide quite a useful contribution.

      Max 14 (or thereabouts) hours generating per day. Overall load factor of about 25% - ie take whatever rating they say, and divide by 4 because of the time it's not generating at all, or only generating at part load, or using power for pumping, and allowing for variations in tide height that affect the power available.

      So yes, good technology, reliable, dependable, but still intermittent (even after adding on the variation in tide times around the country) and subject to variations in output over various timecales. But unlike wind, those variations are predictable in advance - years in advance so it's much more manageable.

  18. Stephen Booth

    IT angle

    You are missing the IT angle to this. Some of the STOR generators (our 2MW for example) are Data-center backup generators. It makes economic sense and ensures the generators go through more test cycles than they otherwise would. And if the grid is going to be unstable its much better that the power grid people switch us over to backup before the problem becomes critical.

    1. Jim Mitchell
      Coat

      Re: IT angle

      That is even scarier! Are not half the stories on El Reg about how data center backup generators temp to fail at the wrong time?

  19. codejunky Silver badge

    Really!

    Now that Lewis is no longer at the reg I am glad Andrew is still kicking out these articles. Someone has to point out how insane wind farms are. Good article

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: Really!

      Not quite as insane as letting the Chinese test their design in Britain, see icon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really!

        You are not the messiah. You are a very silly boy.

        Eqauting nuclear explosions with nuclear power is as stupid as equating leaving the European Union with leaving Europe.

        The sort of emotionally biased senseless scare mongering that might fool a teenager (or a green) but doesn't stand up to rational scrutiny.,

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Really!

        @Pete65, Not sure if it's the testing or China that is your worry, but the fact is that if you want to build a nuclear plant then it's either the Americans the Russians or the French with China that can provide. The French started to cooperate with China years ago for good reasons, one being that China actually builds them, and a lot of them and testing them. They have apparently also accepted the risk and are able to finance the project in Britain. The project in Finland where then Areva accepted a "turn key" delivery has become a financial catastrophe for everybody involved. Having the Chinese involved then would perhaps have made all the difference in Finland. And Siemens is involved with the generators and hardly the problem.

        So there you go, those are the options, and the one Britain took is most likely the best possible.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really!

          Oh dear.

          My dilemma was that I could only pick one icon for my post, the nuclear explosion seemed more apt for the comment. In retrospect I probably should have gone with the safe option of 'Joke Alert' as most people here seem to need to be told when something is meant as a joke.

  20. Bob Rocket

    mass produced SMR is the future

    Well before Hinckley comes online SMRs will be (relatively) cheap as chips.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: mass produced SMR is the future

      Right... the nation that takes 30 years to build a runway will allow new nuclear reactors dotted about the place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: mass produced SMR is the future

        Arguably we need the reactors far more than a runway, and they will have far less environmental impact.

  21. BrowserUk

    Wind power: the most expensive con and second biggest delusion in history

    The product of: prematurely over-hyped and dubious science; ill-informed green zealotry; and blind bloody optimism.

    Whilst science funding is allocated by politicians on the basis of which ill-informed pressure group shouts loudest, and which "discoveries" create the biggest and most scary headlines in the daily comics, wrongly termed 'tabloid newspapers' -- "GM frankenfoods", "fracking disastrous", "Fukushima Daiichi " anyone -- researchers will continue to prematurely extrapolate small trends into predictions of death, disaster and calamity, in order to politicians to found them on the basis of which groups of the mostly ignorant but vocal masses shout loudest.

  22. MK_E

    Diesels aren't so dirty when you consider that you can turn them off when you're not using them. Considering the alternative of keeping conventional plant idling 24/7 "just in case" you need to turn it on at a moment's notice, the fact that a diesel engine is only producing emissions when you absolutely need it makes a big difference.

    Most STOR usage isn't diesel anyway, it's far more common for them to run gas CHPs (usually industrial greenhouses) or turn off the freezers at cold storage warehouses for a couple of hours.

    Trying to compare peak load generation to base load generation is like trying to compare a hatchback to a lorry - if you were going to transport fifty tonnes of goods the length of the country, you'd be better off using a lorry than a hundred hatchbacks, but by the same token it'd be woefully inefficient to use a lorry to pick up your weekly shopping.

  23. Scoular

    Wind power in South Australia

    Wind power has some obvious problems but it was not the cause the the outage in South Australia.

    There was more than adequate generation capacity available, the problem was transmission towers being blown over because there was too much wind.

    Unexpected and unprecedented storms were the problem. South Australia has traditionally not experienced cyclonic winds so built somewhat lighter transmission towers which have been adequate until now. I bet the new ones will be stronger.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wind power in South Australia

      You miss the pint. That generation capacity was at the end of long interconnects, because that state has renewable energy only, and when that failed, and the interconnects failed, they had nothing.

      Its as disingenuous as saying that a tornado in texas is caused by a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil.

      Renewable grids are ipso facto less resilient than ones based on properly distributed fossil plant. If a whole state gets knocked out because a single tower blows over, its poorly designed, and if the reason its poorly designed is that its designed to meet political rather than engineering objectives, then frankly I blame the politicians.

      Renewable energy of the intermittent sort is pure pants in all bit a very few specialised locations, and Australia ain't one of em.

      One of the many blessings of Brexit is that the UK wont be forced to adopt EU mandated energy strategies, but will be free to pick what is tried tested and proven to work instead.

      Single strategies are jolly good if they turn out to be the right strategy, but how many government lead technology projects are anything but a massive waste of time money and personnel?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wind power in South Australia

      Try reading some facts rather than relying on green propaganda.

      http://joannenova.com.au/2016/09/entire-state-of-south-australia-without-electricity-as-storm-hits/

      http://joannenova.com.au/2016/09/the-south-australian-black-out-a-state-running-without-enough-thermal-reserve-to-cope-with-contingencies/

      1. 42

        Re: Wind power in South Australia

        You missed an important fact, it was 23 275kv towers in the backbone of the grid.

        As a resident of SA I'm sick to death of the rubbish anti renewables nuts have said about this failure,

        the real blame belongs to the Liberal govt who privatised our ETSA power provider years ago.

        We pay a lot for our power lines as the distribution suppliers said they had installed a "gold plated" network.

        All they did was squib on maintenance, and directly cause this failure.

        Sorry to disturb the echo chamber.

      2. NinjasFTW

        Re: Wind power in South Australia

        "One of the many blessings of Brexit is that the UK wont be forced to adopt EU mandated energy strategies, but will be free to pick what is tried tested and proven to work instead."

        You mean like Hinkley C which is using an untested design?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wind power in South Australia

      applying a "green" friend's logic - the sort they apply to nuclear, which goes "nuclear bomb going off = bad, therefore anything nuclear = bad", the phrase "There was more than adequate generation capacity available, the problem was transmission towers being blown over because there was too much wind" must 'logically' (haha) mean that wind power is a bad thing?

  24. Dig
    Happy

    I've got an idea..

    Increase pumped storage capacity without any additional Dams by converting it to pump jelly, or maybe semolina would be better. Actually pumping pitch would be better, it would take years to run out. Just a few technical issues to resolve though.

  25. Adam 1

    > Wind makes the grid flakier, as Aussies found out this week. No sooner had the state of South Australia boasted about “going zero carbon” then it suffered black-outs.

    No, they found that out a few weeks back when the Victorian interconnect was down for maintenance at an unfortunate time.

    The statewide blackout was caused by a bunch of high voltage towers were downed by a rather large storm. You know, the ones between all power plants including the coal, gas and hydro plants and the national grid. Maybe their base load capacity is too low, but that is unrelated to their blackout this week. Renewables FUD is no better than nuclear FUD.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sorry Adam1 but a few power pylons being down DOES NOT shut down the whole state just parts supplied by those lines.

  26. catprog

    Of course if you get a giant storm and the power lines go down, your nuclear plants will not be able to get the power to the homes. Just like what actually happened in South Australia.

    Now if you had local generation you would not need to worry so much about blackouts. But I don't think anyone would want a coal or nuclear plant in their backyard. (Probably not wind either)

    If you want to avoid what happened in South Australia your only real option is storage at the local level.

    1. Adam 1

      According to the guardian, 3 of the 4 lines feeding Adelaide from the north were taken down from 22 downed towers at 5 different places.

      The coal plant they mothballed because of these wind farms is at Port Augusta. Those who down voted you evidently haven't ever looked at a map or think that coal power is magical and can be delivered to the population centres without these transmission lines.

  27. John Robson Silver badge

    Australia...

    Clearly aren't taking enough power out of the wind...

    The wind managed to destroy their grid infrastructure - that's not wind power in the turbines to electricity sense. It's wind power as in ripping up and bending steel pylons into pretzels.

    Wind is a terrible caseload supplier, but it has a minor part to play - nuclear is already cheaper, and safer, than wind...

    But to blame the Australian blackouts on their renewables is disingenuous at best.

  28. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    Suggestion...

    Move to Canada.

    Our grid is reportedly 65% hydro, 18% nuclear, plus a smattering of renewables. Still some fossil fuel too, but getting to be a fairly small faction.

    Better act fast. There will be a long queue if Trump wins.

  29. Gigabob

    Environmentally Friendly Energy needs Infrastructure

    The biggest issue confronting effective addition of wind, wave and solar energy to supplement existing base loads is volatility. They require a substantial investment in smart-grid technologies and power conditioning. They also require significant additions in transmission lines. The UK, a compact island relative to the vast distances in the US, should be able to accommodate increase in transmission lines to Wind Farms, Wave generators etc with a far lower cost. However this leaves the need for a smart-grid to perform three critical functions:

    1) Sense volatility in supply and adapt

    -identify wind drop offs, impact of clouds on solar etc

    2) Condition voltage and current during transitions between supplies

    3) Secure against Cyber-attack.

    The politics will come down to who has priorities - in the case of oversupply - do we shutdown wind over solar, based on expected changes in weather do we need to bring more gas fired plants on-line? These are often contentious decisions as the regulators and utility providers must now compete, where previously they only had to worry about providing a reliable supply.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps I shouldn't point out the only reason that there hasn't been a higher spot price than £999 is because the software behind NETTA doesn't allow traders to type in a greater value. I understand there has been at least one change request before to increase the length of said field to allow for higher prices. Denied, I might add, but it would not surprise me to see it requested again.

    The market has principally failed because OFGEM and their Tory overseers assume there will be competition available. Diesels remain attractive because of low up front investment and high return versus a constrained capacity market. Throw into this mix the need to maintain ageing networks; and an ageing generator fleet, it is no surprise there are shortfalls of capacity - and effectively every time this happens it is an open invite for traders to push their prices north towards the 999 limit.

    Please note that constraint costs for 2016-17 are heading for over £1bn this year (£92M alone in August 16).

    http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/Electricity-transmission-operational-data/Report-explorer/Services-Reports/

    Anonymous coward for fear of job security.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    late to add these articles

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602051/fail-safe-nuclear-power/

    http://www.thoriumpowercanada.com/

    http://web.mit.edu/pebble-bed/

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