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Greens Push UK Power Grid to Brink of Collapse

British grid operator National Grid made history this week when it was forced to ask some of its largest electricity consumers to decrease their usage to help cope with a spate of power outages. The FT reports:

National Grid urged a group of heavy users, including businesses, factories and hospitals, to switch to back-up power or to reduce demand to meet the sudden lack of supply. Consumers responded by taking 40 megawatts of demand off the grid — partly by switching to back-up generators. […]

The measures highlighted the tightness of the margin between supply and demand in the UK, where old power plants have in the past decade been taken off the grid but not replaced quickly with alternatives. Coal-fired plants are being closed at a rapid pace, ahead of a 2023 deadline for compliance with new EU rules on air quality.

This is the sort of problem that will naturally arise in any country that tries to rush through a transition towards cleaner, greener energy sources. In the case of the UK, the shuttering of coal-fired power plants, a dirty but consistent source of baseload power, has decreased the country’s generating capacity enough that unforeseen outages can have wide-reaching, destabilizing effects on the grid.

If greens had their way, countries would follow the example of Germany’s energiewende and relentlessly pursue the deployment of renewables, regardless of the (considerable) cost. But leaving aside the higher power bills such a policy inevitably brings about, it can also undermine the stability of the grid delivering that power. Wind and solar producers can only contribute intermittently, which is a tough quality to square with the most important demand of any power grid: consistency.

There’s a real, tangible danger in being snookered by the policy advice of shallow-thinking greens. Britain can’t shutter its fleet of coal-fired power plants without bringing on baseload replacements capable of making a similar sort of round-the-clock supply contributions, and installing more wind turbines and solar panels isn’t the answer.

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  • Jim__L

    Let’s continue our sing-along! =D
    (Sung to Bernstein and Sondheim’s “Maria”…)

    Nu-cle-ar! (That’s how you pronounce it, Nu-cle-ar!)

    • Fat_Man

      Nuclear is doubleplus ungood. Saying it is crimethink.

  • Blackbeard

    The problem here is that people think that electric power on demand, 24/7, is somehow “normal” and something they are entitled to. The fact is that, as the fossil fuel era comes to an end, at least in the West, people need to realize that electricity is an environmentally destructive luxury that they had better learn to do without. Of course businesses will close (or move to China). That’s a good thing as fewer businesses mean lower emissions. And we don’t need the worthless junk those factories would have produced anyway. A simple life, close to the land, is better. Of course unemployment will increase but we will increase welfare to take care of that and we can pay for it by taxing the rich who don’t deserve their money anyway. We solve inequality and environmental problems at one blow.

    Welcome back to the Middle Ages.

    • John WB


      • Blackbeard

        Of course I’m being sarcastic but the Greens aren’t. Read Bill McKibben for example or some of John Holdren’s earlier stuff on “de-development ” and eugenics. That was before he became Obama’s science adviser and had to pretend to reasonableness.

  • Angel Martin

    in the 1970’s, the Conservatives were defeated after a series of miner’s strikes caused coal shortages and rotating power cuts that went on for months.

    if the power cuts happen again, it will be entirely the fault of the Conservatives for slavishly following green idiocy.

    they won’t be able to blame Arthur Scargill this time.

    • teapartydoc

      Blizzard of 1978+coal miner strike that Carter refused to end by executive order=first week long extension of spring break in history by the college I was attending and election of Ronald Reagan.

  • Friedfish

    “unforeseen outages can have wide-reaching, destabilizing effects on the grid”
    Unforeseen to who? LOL!!!.

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