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Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?
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Potemkin Villager



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed a very considerable challenge!

When you tot it all up and figure in it all having to be done whilst maintaining a 24/7 supply, it will come to a pretty huge investment. This means that the current cost comparisons being made between say offshore wind and nuclear are very misleading.

It probably would turn into as great a cost overrun nightmare as nuclear so there is the question as to who would be willing to bankroll all this complex new infrastructure? Even significantly altering the load duration profile of the UK itself would be a very challenging project and not for the faint hearted. Leading on such a project would have as many political as practical challenges.

Then "Plan B" is currently scarcely even being considered. Now where have I heard that one?
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shortening the working day, which was supposed to be one of the advantages of computerisation, would help and allow spreading of the load, both on the grid and on the transport infrastructure. Spread load means lower peaks and less capacity needed.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cottam coal burning power station in Nottinghamshire is to close earlier than expected in September this year.

That represents a loss of 2Gw, or about 4% of peak demand before next winter.
Good news for the environment, but of concern from the energy security point of view.

This power station opened in the late 1960s and is therefore far beyond the originally intended 30 year design life.

Operation has been uneconomic for some years, and the power plant would probably have already been closed without receiving payments under the relatively new "capacity market".
This was a grant/subsidy/market led payment intended to keep open otherwise loss making power plants.
It was NOT a direct subsidy towards the actual cost per unit generated, but it was a payment towards the costs of keeping capacity available in case of need.

The power station will close when these payments cease at the end of September this year.

https://www.energylivenews.com/2019/02/07/nottinghamshire-coal-fired-power-station-to-close/
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adam2
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is my reasonably pessimistic view of electricity generating capacity, import capacity, and demand for the coming winter.
All figures are in GW and are my views, but based upon published data and reasonably expected future events.

Coal--------4 Allows for the closure of at least 2GW since last winter, and also for breakdowns.
Nuclear-----6 a bit less than last year due to ongoing concerns and outages.
CCGT-------26, a modest increase on last year to allow for new build.
Wind--------1.5, will probably be much higher, but 1.5 can be counted on.
Biomass-----2.5, as previously achieved regularly.
Pumped/hydro------2.5, as previously, no change.
Net imports----1.0, allowing for breakdowns or shortages in Europe.
OCGT/Diesel---0.5, my estimate, exact figure not known.

That is a total of 44, a significant shortfall on a pessimistic maximum demand figure of 51.
Whilst I stand by each estimate as being a reasonably pessimistic forecast, we would be exceedingly unlucky if ALL the worst estimates coincided and at peak demand.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a more optimistic view, making reasonably optimistic assumptions about capacity, based on published data and reasonable extrapolations therefrom.

Coal----------6, less than last year due to closures.
CCGT--------27, has previously reached 27.
Nuclear-----7, less than I forecast last winter due to various concerns.
Wind--------2.0, Greater than last year due to new capacity. Could exceed 10, but cant count on that much.
Biomass----3.0, previously achieved.
OCGT/Diesel--0.5 as before.
Net imports 2.5, regularly achieved in the past.
Pumped/hydro 4.0, cant be sustained but helpful for the high peak.

A total of about 52 which is a reasonable margin over a conservative peak demand estimate of 50.
That margin could soon be eroded by the failure of a couple of nuclear reactors and/or old coal burning units.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With winter* now more than half gone, no significant electricity supply issues have been observed.
No power cuts due to lack of generating capacity have been observed (there have of course been localised power cuts due to breakdowns, but no wider supply issues)

With the increased wind generating capacity now available, CCGT plant has only seldom been fully utilised.

The main exception was last week, Tuesday to Friday inclusive. Wind power was unusually low for the time of year, and as a result CCGT and our now very limited coal burning capacity were fully or very nearly fully utilised.
On numerous occasions last week OCGT plant was running, which generally suggests a lack of alternative capacity.

For the rest of this winter, I perceive some limited risk of power cuts, but only in the event of some exceptional event.
As an example, last week we were importing 2GW from France each evening, had the interconnector failed during the evening peak then power cuts would have been likely.
Outside of the peak we would have been fine, and indeed we even exported to France at times.

And towards the end of winter, PV starts to help at the beginning of the winter peak. The PV contribution is small at about 500Mw, but still preferable to either running OCGT plant, or utilising pumped storage early in the peak and running out of water before the peak hour ends.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Power cuts due to simple lack of generating capacity now seem most unlikely. Winter is nearly over, and no unusually low temperatures are forecast.

The big unknown unknown is the coronavirus.
If manufacturing industries close down, that would reduce demand, but we don't have that much manufacturing.
People "self isolating" may tend to drive up demand. An office or shop with a reduced staff will still use about the same amount of electricity, and the homes of those isolated will consume more electricity than if the occupants were at work.
A moderate increase in demand should be no problem outside of the peak demand season.

Of greater concern would be "normal" breakdowns of power stations or transmission infrastructure. Such faults are normally dealt with promptly.
If however skilled labour or imported spares etc were in short supply, then subsequent failures might occur before the first ones were fixed.

Nuclear power plants are subject to strict inspections, what if just a handful of the inspectors become sick ?

Steam power plants are subject to boiler inspections, again what if such experts are not available.
Like wise statutory inspections of lifting and hoisting equipment.
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