Power outages

I am glad there will be an urgent review of what went wrong with the power system.

It appears from the records that there was a 740 MW drop in gas generated power supply (Little Barford) and a 1000 MW fall in wind supply (Hornsea) in quick succession. This was followed five minutes later by a 1000 MW increase in pumped storage supply,  presumably the quickest acting power that could be brought on.  This all took place against the background of relatively low summer demand for electric power which meant there was plenty of potential capacity available. It is also interesting that though we are using well below domestic capacity levels of electricity we are tending to import power from France, Belgium and the Netherlands anyway.

Questions for the review should include

  1. Now the system is running on high percentages of renewables when the weather permits, does it have enough quick acting stand by plant for when the wind drops or sun goes in? If not can we rapidly remedy this defect?
  2. Why do we continue to import when we are well  below capacity? What account is taken of the different fuel mixes and subsidy patterns for continental power which includes fossil fuel power in its mix?
  3. Given the use of pump storage, how long did the outages last and why did they last as long as they did?
  4. Why did the wind power fail, given the current size and the planned large expansion of this new  plant?

The government also needs to ask the railway industry why it was unable to quickly adjust services  and get trains running as soon as the power was restored.

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  1. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    I’m really annoyed that we can’t call these ‘blackouts’ because of the snowflake dictat.

    • jerry
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      @Lynn Atkinson; But there was no “blackout”, it was broad daylight!

      I get really annoyed by those who can not use a technically correct description, because of being a snowflake who demands everything must dumbing-down… 😛

      Yes, I am being sarcastic.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        No you are being pedantic Jerry.
        Many people were in the dark in tube stations and other buildings.
        It was a dangerous situation and we are lucky people were not injured or worse.
        Did you not watch the BBC reports?

        • jerry
          Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          @Edward2; Oh dear… Do try reading the comment I was replying to, thus understand the context.

          • jerry
            Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; I would be very interested in confirmed locations that had no back-up emergency lighting provision, low(er) light is not the same as no light, very few if any places (with public access) are akin to a photographic film darkroom with the lights switched off.

            Did I not see the BBC reports you ask? Indeed I did, and as usual they got more wrong -as it latter transpired- than they got correct, because they tend to practice the sort of dumbing down you approve of, choosing vox-pop interviews with Jo Public rather than do some basic journalistic leg-work finding someone with actual industry knowledge.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

            Even more pedantic than your first post.
            Well done Jerry.
            You are arguing about degrees of light now.

          • jerry
            Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; “Hilarious.”

            Hilarious indeed, considering you were the one arguing about degrees of light Eddie, “Many people were in the dark in tube stations and other buildings.”…

          • Edward2
            Posted August 12, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

            I wasn’t arguing about it Jerry
            Those words of mine you are quoting are a statement not an argument.
            Your pedantic reply that followed was an argument

          • jerry
            Posted August 13, 2019 at 6:28 am | Permalink

            Edward2; “I wasn’t arguing about it Jerry”

            So that is why you took so much serious, and you call me “pedantic”, exception to my self-declared (complete with emoticon) sarcastic comment, glad we have that all sorted now…. 🙄

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:13 pm | Permalink


          Londoners coped splendidly during the blackouts in the blitz.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

          for the future — when HS2 power goes mid long tunnel?. How long for cutover to diesel – assuming we will stay with hybrid power?

        • margaret howard
          Posted August 12, 2019 at 3:38 pm | Permalink


          “Did you not watch the BBC reports?”

          Good gracious Edward, do you actually watch the BBC?

          I thought they were anathema to ‘ardent’ Brexiteers like you, being full of leftie Oxbridge graduates or only reporting fake news.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 12, 2019 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

            Well they are lefties, climate alarmists, suitably woke and invariably art graduates. They seem to have little or no grasp on science, economics or logic but no longer so many Oxbridge ones. Chosen more for diversity reasons (skin colour, disability, their head gear, accents or religions). Never diversity of their lefty politics or opinions it seems these seem to be requirements for the job.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

            I do Margaret.
            Unlike remainers who cut themselves off from reality in their safe secured world reading only the Guardian and Independent and socialising with others of the same views.
            The bubble of public sector, quango and charity workers.

    • Bob
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink


      From UKIP’s manifesto policies:

      End politically correct social engineering of society – with the added benefit of saving about £67m pa.

      On the energy front it includes
      • Remove the 5% VAT levy on domestic fuel.

      • Scrap the Climate Change Act (2008), which requires the UK to achieve annual decarbonisation rates of more than 5% – a figure no other country in the world has ever, or is ever likely, to attain. The total cost of this wildly unrealistic legislation has been calculated at an eye watering £720 billion, over a period of 40 years.

      • End subsidies for wind turbines and solar voltaic arrays. We will support renewable energy where it can deliver electricity at competitive prices.

      • Seek to rejuvenate the UK’s coal industry, wherever that is possible.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Dick Braine – sic – the new ukip leader, says that he wants ukip to be “the far moderate party of common sense”.

        I’m glad that that’s clear, then.

    • Hope
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      The really big questions are:
      Why have the Tory govt not scrapped the Climate Change Act?
      Why did Mayhab state she would build on Miliband’s policy?
      Why did Mayhab introduce price cap afte Cameron mocked Labour for proposing it?
      Why is Johnson now committing to zero carbon emissions by 2050!
      Why is coal not in the mix for energy when we have a supply in abundance and when China and the US still produces energy this way?
      Why is the Tory govt not fracking?
      Why is the Tory govt still listening and giving jobs to people like Gummer and why is he or his likes any where near policy decisions on energy?
      Why do the Tory govt keep caving in to loud vocal minority groups against the majority wishes?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      You just did – doesn’t bother me.

      I do detest all these namby-pamby, wet-lettuce, PC terms though. Why can’t we call things what they are? Take that silly word “populism” for example. That’s just “mass idiocy”, isn’t it?

      • Edward2
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        How do you redefine such a term to that Martin?
        Are you just silly or simply being provocative?
        It seems you lefties want power to the people but only so long as they vote in agreement with you elite.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

          as long as they are the pigs in Animal Farm.

        • L Jones
          Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

          It’s quite obvious Martin isn’t ”elite”.

  2. Alec
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Wind power is good for climate change public relations and moving public money to private bank accounts. Other than that it’s a gigantic con. Every wind turbine has more energy invested in building it than will ever be produced by it. Clearly we can look forward to more power cuts if the present obsession with unworkable renewable power generation continues. Best idea is to set up your own system and laugh as the grid deteriorates even further.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      You say:- “Wind power is good for climate change public relations and moving public money to private bank accounts”. Well certainly the latter look at all the politicians who act as so called “consultants” to the crony greencrap industries. Many in the Lords and the Commons. The industry is nearly all a gigantic scam against tax payers and bill payers.

      As to good for climate change hardly. After you take account of all the energy needed to manufacture, install, maintain, put in the cable links and provide on demand backup they save virtually no CO2. Anyway the climate sensitivity to Co2 has been hugely exaggerated. It is not really a problem. The whole thing is mainly a religious racket and virtue signally scam.

      A good excuse for royalty, politicians, the rich and famous to fly first class or on private jets and in super yachts to absurd Climate Change, Google events in Sicily though.

  3. Ian Wragg
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    The power outages were predictable and will incresse in frequency. Wind turbines are not despatchable power and the Gas Turbine station obviously could not control the frequency due to the violent gusting of the wind. Let this be a warning to all the green crap merchants.
    Wind was abandoned in the 19th century as beimg unreliable and it still is.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      As we continue to scrap large fossil fuel power stations the control of frequency will become more and more difficult.
      The answer is to get fracking and build large CCGT plants on the site of the existing scrapped units.
      This is where the government should be giving incentives not to wealthy landowners.
      Offshore wind farms are proving to be less reliable than predicted requiring extensive maintenance due to salt erosion. Who will pay to clean up the oceans when the owners abandon them.

      • Hope
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Do not forget Drax cutting down trees in US shipping the wood pellets here to burn all by diesel powered machines. Similarly STOR govt policy to use diesel powered generators when wind machines will not work and at huge cost to consumer. Madness.

        Then the Tory govt. mass immigration policy continues where more,energy, waste, water, food and housing is required!

        We read today Cummings has the brains to work out the left wing criminal justice system is in a mess. Particularly foreign criminals not being deported.
        Soon Johnson and co will work out health tourism needs to attacked with vengeance not swept under the carpet.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Indeed and backup or storage is very inefficient and expensive. Huge moves by people on MSM to pretend this power problem has nothing to do with the increased use of unreliable and not on demand so called “renewables”.

      Actually the power of renewables comes from Nuclear Fusion on the sun. Or from the Earth’s rotations in the case of tidal.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        The spokesman for the network say they are going to have an urgent investigation. But if they were remotely competent they would know exactly what happened already.

        They keep saying renewables were “not the cause” perhaps not the immediate cause but the lack of dependable satisfactory back up that “renewables” demand surely was.

        • outsider
          Posted August 12, 2019 at 2:57 am | Permalink

          In Germany, a new generation of coal-fired power plant is being built “purely” as back-up to wind. It is claimed that new techniques allow coal plant to be fired up much faster than thought possible before. I do not know if this is genuinely correct but if so it would apply here too, were there to be anyone to build it.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 14, 2019 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

            Indeed it can be designed to fire up quickly but gas, hydro or pumped storage (hydro) is generally better for this task than coal.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 12, 2019 at 6:32 am | Permalink

          urgent investigation = how to present the best cover-up.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Question for review should be why we don’t have enough power plants nor electricity independence.

    This seems to be the fault of politicians and civil servants (mainly with arts degrees), not engineers (with scarce STEM degrees.)

    We have entrusted this vital strategic resource to a continent that was at our throat within my parent’s living memory and which was sending its own people to gulags within mine. In no way do I suggest tin hat *prepare for war* but to not be energy independent is to be too trusting and is a neglect of duty by those in charge.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Just another way to harness us to the EU
      Putting more control in France and Germany,s hands.

    • margaret
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      I simply do not understand why so many are hung up with degrees in this and that . This time in university represents a short time of a life (under average circumstances). It is so vacantly superficial. It is childish and presupposes that a few years with a certain group of people defines a whole life.
      Art degrees are important, science degrees are important, philosophy degrees are important, how people learn and live their lives is important . We should always think ‘In trutina’

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        The fact is that the big decisions in this country are made by BAs and the BScs have to implement them.

        As a result the country has gone to rat shit.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        and how many seriously utilize the knowledge or skills acquired?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 14, 2019 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        Well it is the sort of person who choses to study English, Law or PPE at University rather than Physics, Maths, Engineering. They are not the same types in general.

        I do not want people with the latter degrees designing the energy systems I use or the aircraft I fly on thank you very much. Not indeed the economic policies. No decent physicist, mathematician or engineer would have joined the ERM or voted for the absurd climate change act. They would see them for the lunacies they were.

    • Julian Flood
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 3:27 am | Permalink

      There is an engineer member of the Climate Change Committee, a member of the House of Lords, who advocates converting the UK to a hydrogen economy. As Basil Brush would say, Boom boom!


    • margaret howard
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm | Permalink


      “We have entrusted this vital strategic resource to a continent that was at our throat”

      ‘This ‘continent’ has sustained us for over 2000 years. Without it we would be nothing.
      Beginning with the 500 years of Roman rule when the rude tribes living here came into contact with a higher civilisation, to Christianity which continued the work.

      Our language, art, literature, legal processes, architecture etc are all due to European developments, inventions and ideas and I can’t think of a single thing at the moment that didn’t originate there before making its way here and enriching our lives.

      Reply I see a global set of influences on British culture with a strong domestic creativity from Shakespeare and the English language to Turner and the British landscapes to the successes of the industrial and agrarian revolutions which began here, to say little of the early development of human rights and democratic self government. Why are you so negative about everything that is best in our country?

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    All good questions. Pumped storage is wasteful and expensive (but good to cover sudden emergency shortages. It should however not be needed very often at all, if you have gas generation that can be ramped up on demand.

    Some foolish BBC reporter yesterday comenting on the power cuts said:- “it brought two words to mind”. I immediately thought of “gross incompetence” and “greencrap” but he came up with “resiliance” and “implact” surely “lack of resiliance” and “dire impact” (which was predictable).

    There was it seems no attack on the generately system either. How would they cope if their were. At least it seems that no lives were lost but they easily could have been. Then we have the issue of the absurd trains at Kingsx that can only be reset by engineers not drivers.

    “No deal spells calamity for the Union”, warns the failed PM, economic illiterate, appalling chancellor, no return to boom and bust, save the World, Gordon Brown in the Observer today. What a compete dope he is.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      I meant:-

      It seems no malicious attack on the generating and distribution systems either. How would they cope if there were if they cannot cope anyway?

  6. Richard1
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Need to get used to it if green crap policies are to be maintained. Check south Australia. The good thing there though is the Australians have taken note and unexpectedly voted against the (BBC promoted) left-green Labor party. Australia now has a sensible federal govt as a result. Boris should be careful of too much pandering to the green blob. I’d suggest make the obligatory pious noises about climate change and get moving with shale gas.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Renewables (other than hydro) are very expensive and are not “on demand” making their electricity worth far less per MWH as they require expensive, reliable, 24 hour on demand backup. The UK used to be rather good at managing electricy demand. Get the religion, politicians and priests out of it and get some decent engineers in please. Put Lord Lilley or similar in charge.

  8. Iain Gill
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Train doors that cannot open after a powercut, windows that cannot be opened after the air conditioning fails, electric trains which cannot be restarted after power cut without the attendance of maintenance engineering…

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      you own dystopian vision.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        it all really happened

  9. eeyore
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    There are suggestions of fining National Grid up to 10% of turnover. This will punish the innocent shareholder (including pension funds) to benefit a culpable government and encourage it to regulate so as to ensure further profitable outages.

    • Bob
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Just give the CEO a pay cut.
      The should incentivise him to get his act together, and if he doesn’t, give him another pay cut or better still, a P45.

      • The Prangwizard
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        Sack him now, along with one or two others directly responsible.

        I can think of one country where had this happened there he would be out already. Our ways are not always the best.

    • Mark
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      The evidence I have is that National Grid were culpable for ignoring their own warning that they gave in their Summer Outlook 2019.

      Executive Summary

      Key messages – electricity

      • Low transmission demand and high volumes of low inertia generation can cause operational issues over the summer.
      • We will need to take day-to-day actions to manage system frequency in times of low demand. Usually this will involve working with flexible generation to reduce supply

      They were running with well over 40% renewables most of the day, and seemed pre-occupied with boasting about renewables and wind records until the power cut. In doing so they were ignoring their own advice to maintain adequate inertia on the system to allow it to cope with a major outage – inertia slows the rate at which grid frequency falls, allowing time for spinning and fast acting reserves to power up and prevent the frequency dropping to blackout levels. They should have curtailed wind output to keep the grid stable against a major loss contingency. Now they have done the experiment and it has blown up in their faces I expect them to be a little more cautious.

      I also think they have been disingenuous in deflecting media attention away from this fundamental fact – a trait that appears to have affected many of those involved to one degree or another.

      • Mark
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        P.S. Sacking those responsible for taking the decision to run the risk is a far more sensible penalty than fines. Sackings might even reach beyond National Grid into OFGEM, and BEIS. I wonder if Claire Perry as the previous energy minister endorsed their approach?

        • forthurst
          Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

          Why not fine the foreign owners of power generation which took their supplies out entirely without notice?

          Ofgem needs to be closed down, not culled: it’s got more directors than a major city firm of spiv banksters. The more arts graduates fired, the better the country will run.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      My husband has a pension from National Grid after working for over 30 years for a national gas company. How is it fair that pensions will be affected if NG get fined? The problem with the grid is not so much how it is managed but what it is managed with now. Forecasts of power cuts have been reported for years now and it looks like it is beginning to happen. Scotland has a multitude of power cuts all the time due to wind disruption on the grid. They are still allowed large and even larger wind turbines on shore to go ahead when the power from existing wind farms cannot be coped with. It’s all utter madness. The thousands of wind turbines in Scotland have done nothing to improve the climate!! Are our politicians loonies?

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    When oh when are the government going to undo the hugely damaging Climate Change Act that almost every single halfwitted, virtue signalling MP voted for?

    Our short-sighted politicians have fallen prey to mindless green posturing,
    DIA CHAKRAVARTY in the Telegraph today.

  11. Nig l
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    And to what extent we can be held ‘to ransom’ by continental suppliers/governments?

    Seems to me a dereliction of your duty not to safeguard our power security by relying on third parties.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      have we contracted to use their source before ours? Do I smell a rat?

  12. Lifelogic
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    A good piece by Douglas Murray in the Sunday Telegraph too:- Just look at the chaos across the Channel and it’s blindingly obvious we are right to leave the EU.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      you needed an article in mid 2019 to convince yourself?

  13. 37/6
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Signallers would have been dealing with multiple line blockages requested by drivers. Even though trains were unable to be moved because of the power outages blockages would have been requested in order to evacuate passengers in case power was suddenly restored or in case diesel trains were still running.

    Then, once things got moving again, there were multiple passenger trains queued in mid section which would have required detraining at suitable stations before they could be run empty or reassigned to other services. Crews would have been heavily displaced too.

    We are talking about a major national disaster here.

    I am amazed that it is not getting more air time than it is.

    • Julian Flood
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 3:37 am | Permalink

      Now why do you think that that is? Why would the MSM, which has caused the current situation with its anti-technology green Luddite advocacy, seek to obfuscate, deny and hide the result of their virtue-signalling?

      It’ll be ‘four legs good, two legs better’ before long.


  14. Mark B
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    It has been long stated here and very much elsewhere over our ability to supply energy regularly and uniforminally. Our self styled political elites seem enthralled to the Green Religion that even a 16 year old latterday, Joan of Arc commands their attention. We have just been lumbered by a vexious ex-PM further problems that, unless those who have the power, snap out of this environmental self-induced hallucination will start causing real deaths and damage – Apparently a London hospital was unable to get its emergency generators running !

    Hopefully this will provide the jolt that the political class needs to look at energy and review their insane policies. But I fear the blame game and the, “Lessons have been learned” shall persist

    • margaret howard
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Mark B

      ” Our self styled political elites seem enthralled to the Green Religion that even a 16 year old latterday, Joan of Arc commands their attention. ”

      You wouldn’t be so dismissive about the importance of a young woman onthe affairs of state.

      After all Joan of Arc provided the final push in the Hundred Years War that lost us all of our French holdings (yes, I am aware of Calais) and got us thrown out of the continent. And she was only about 19 years old when we had her burnt at the stake.

  15. Newmania
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Of course we do not know if the excuses above are ordinary events or extraordinary disasters the proximity of which to Brexit and our disconnection form the European grid (or not ?) is another coincidence (alongside the drop in the pound recessionary growth figures …etc ).
    We will have to wait for the civil services leaks to find out but my point is that for the first time in my lifetime one regards government sources as little better than Comical Ali or the Leave campaign fictions.
    In this context I regard the imposition of a Brexit 50P piece oddly sinister , will it have a profile of Boris Johnson or Nigel Farrage ..or perhaps Enoch Powell. Will we have Brexit studies taught at school . They are already spending our money like water on their ideological psychosis, this is not a country I recognise at all .The rewriting of history, the denial of even recent events, its like a dark sewage in the streams and rivers of England poisoning everything

    • Richard1
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Can we not import electricity after brexit, I hadn’t heard that why would that be?

      • Mark
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Of course we will be able to. The rules will go back to how they were several years ago, and that has been extensively planned for.

    • Mark
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Brexit has nothing to do with this. Although leaving the EU would in theory allow us to adopt a more sensible energy policy that would substantially lower blackout risks we have a government that has committed us ever further down the path of stupidity and blackouts via zero carbon targets.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Politics study.
      Brexit 2016-2019? studies taught at school. Excelent subject for the rise of anti-democracy in UK.

  16. A.Sedgwick
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Electric cars?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      If you do the number for the extra generation and distribution needed were we all switch to electric cars, vans, trucks it gives result that are, to say the least, rather interesting and improbably.

      Not to mention all the (hugely environmentally damaging) batteries that would be needed.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      A(n electric ed) car battery apparently has a carbon footprint of 15 tons , with 1000 liters per ton and a petrol car going 20km/l, that means a petrol car can go 300,000 kms (186,000 miles) before it exceeds a (named electric car’s) carbon footprint of leaving the …. car dealers showroom.

      Politicians having given car manufacturers and car buyers duff advice on diesel cars, seem to have done it again on electric cars.

      • david price
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        If emissions are important to you…

        Unfortunately you don’t cite sources for your data but 15 tons sounds like a large battery EV, eg a 100kWh Tesla whereas the equivalent number for the more common 30-40kWh vehicles is significantly lower. The battery associated with an EV adds 15 – 68% emissions cost over that of the new ICE.

        Search youtube for a video entitled “Are Electric Cars Worse For The Environment? Myth Busted” if you want a comparison that cites sources and some discussion on Lithium production. Eg With a more common, smaller EV it can take only 3 months of driving for it’s emissions cost from start of manufacture to become less than that of the ICE depending on how it is charged. Beyond that point the ICE is generating significantly more emissions for the rest of it’s active life, so keeping a old car running does not save anything in that regard.

        If an EV owner uses solar panels for charging then the time to emissions equivalence becomes even shorter and the lifetime emissions significantly less.

      • Julian Flood
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 3:41 am | Permalink

        Ad Blue diesel suddenly looks more attractive.


    • Bob
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Or electric delivery vehicles bringing your groceries direct to your doorstep every day, with milk in reusable glass bottles. We could call them Milk Floats. They could be designed as hydrids, i.e. when the wind turbines aren’t working to charge the batteries the Milk Float could be hitched up to a horse.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        you need fields for horses – they are being concreted, tarmac’d over!

  17. DICK R
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Just what happens when ‘renewables’ don’t ‘renew’ !

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Well “renewables” are not “renewable” just rather long lasting. The hardware needed to collect this “renewable” energy (solar, PV, tidal, wind turbines, hydro, batteries, cabling, electronics, water turbines etc.) needs lots & lots of maintenance & renewing though.

      Invariably this is done using large amounts of fossil fuels. Often not dissimilar to the energy actually produced.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 5:10 am | Permalink

        Turbines in Scotland are being replaced after 10 years. The foundations have large fizzures appearing and the blades are in a poor state. Much to the horror of persecuted local residents, the new turbines will be higher with larger blades. How considerate. Friends of mine still have problems with contamination of local water supplies which the Scottish government isn’t interested in

    • Bob
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      what happens when ‘renewables’ don’t ‘renew’


      • sm
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Bob, I believe you must call them ‘diversity-outs’ nowadays.

  18. The Prangwizard
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I heard that passengers were trapped on some trains for hours. It won’t be long before someone dies as a direct result of such incompetence.

    Why are trains seemingly made and the system designed in such a way they cannot be pushed or pulled to sidings or other places of safety quickly where passengers can be allowed off. Are there indeed any engines that can be used for this purpose anyway. So called specialist engineers were need to release the trapped.

    It is time common sense was included in the design and running processes. People should not be prisoners to too clever by half design and designers.

    And as for the bigger issues covered this arises directly from our domestic eco-lunatics and globalists. Policies promoted by them must be reversed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Hospitals (Ipswich) hit too. Trains with no working air conditioning, no opening windows or doors either it seems! One that cannot be reset after a power cut by the drivers. What plonker decided that was a good plan?

  19. BJC
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I recall similar questions being raised when the suitability of transferring to sustainable options was originally discussed, but any concerns were dismissed because at the time we had a balanced policy of retaining nuclear and fossil fuel options as backup.

    Since then a perfect storm has been brewing as successive, short-sighted governments have introduced policies designed to retire reliable, stand-alone backup systems, and an industry dominated by the blinkered ideology of evangelical environmentalists, and between them they’ve turned the imagined into reality. Well done.

  20. 'None of the above'.
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Plans should should be laid immediately for self sufficiency of power supply in our Country.

    We will need to significantly increase generating capacity to support plans to encourage the use of electric cars anyway, let alone because of increasing population, housing stock and a sensible reduction in the need to import electricity.

  21. jerry
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Sir John, it is not just when the wind drops that problems arise but when the wind speed/gusts are above the designed for limit, over-speed if left unchecked (by stopping the turbine hub) can cause the destruction of the generator or gearboxes.

    My fear is, unless this urgent review is in public, any politically unpalatable issues will simply be brushed under the carpet. If the real problems are caused by our for-profit energy market, the lack of state regulation oversight, the lack of HMT backed essential infrastructure (nuclear power stations for example) we need to bit the bullet what ever the political cost, not simply hope to dodge the next one due to embarrassment.

  22. david price
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    2.1. What are the plans to replace the imported power facilities with local reliable and sustainable generation?

    4.1 What contracts and performance agreements are in place with all generators to ensure power is supplied and what penalties are imposed if the suppliers fail to meet them.

  23. Dominic
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    ‘The government also needs to ask the railway industry why it was unable to quickly adjust services and get trains running as soon as the power was restored.’

    Ask the RMT. They’re in control now.

    I have a great idea. The Tories should stop pandering to the left, to Labour and the unions and tell it as it is rather than remaining silent or dodging the issue for political convenience

    You pander to Labour on race and religion. You pander to the left on crime. You pander to the left and Labour on the environment and renewables.

    is that all the Tories ever do, pander and capitulate to the left?

    Try confronting them, standing up for the UK and protecting us all against the poison of Labour’s client state and their push to impose their oppressive dogma on us all before it’s too late

  24. Woody
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Maybe one of the questions should be was going all electric train service a really good long term solution.

  25. Freeborn John
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    A proper review needs doing but one likely issue is that a smarter grid and very short term generation (batteries) are required which can handle the less predictable fluctuations from wind and solar generation.

    • Mark
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      The grid already has a number of batteries in operation, but they are quite inadequate for dealing with major losses of generation. The cost of providing for that would be simply enormous. It was Dinorwig that rapidly picked up the slack, but as it isn’t located next to the outage, its output wasn’t as immediately effective in preventing failure.

    • acorn
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Spare a thought for all those households that have solar panels on their roofs. Yesterday, they discovered that those panels stop working when the national grid stops working.

      BTW, a CFD (Contract for Difference), seems to be misunderstood on this site. If the market price of electricity is less than the “strike price” the government makes up the difference for every actual MWh generated. If the market price is higher than the strike price, the generator pays back the difference to the government. The generator does not get the strike price PLUS the grid market price.

      The strike price in the latest auction round put wind at £56 – 53 for 2023-25 delivery; against a 2019 current grid price of £45 MWh.

      • Julian Flood
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 3:47 am | Permalink

        I’ve seen an estimate of £30/Mwh if we could only find some local source of natural gas. If only…


      • david price
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:18 am | Permalink

        The current strike price for Hornsea Phase 1 which is operational now and from which supply failed on Friday is £158.75 /MWh so the margin is significantly greater than the one you mention.

        Perhaps the CFDs need to be revisited if suppliers cannot guarantee or buffer supply.

        ref – LCCC CFD register

      • Mark
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        Let’s be accurate: the strike price was £57.50/MWh in 2012 money. With indexation that is already £65.09/MWh according to the Low Carbon Contracts CFD register. There is no guarantee that anything will be built at that price, and some think that the CFD contract can be cancelled for a relatively small penalty if market prices are running higher than the index price.

        Meanwhile, the price for the power from the Hornsea wind farm – the newest in operation – is currently £158.75/MWh.

      • Stred
        Posted August 13, 2019 at 6:26 am | Permalink

        The price that is used for the comparison includes the carbon tax on the gas. This is false accounting because the government could use the tax to reduce electricity costs or other taxes. The big green lobby even assumes higher carbon taxes in the future in order to justify renewables.

  26. Peter
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    The weakness of the power supply in this country has been known for years but never addressed or acknowledged.

    The powers that be seem to operate on the basis of trying to get away with it for as long as possible.

    Then they assume the public are fools who will believe that it is all a big surprise, rather than something shameful which should only ever happen in the Third World.

    The sort of thing that happens when you leave essential public services in the hands of chancers.

    • Bob
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      “they assume the public are fools”

      and it appears that they are right, because the public continue voting for the same two political parties that have led us to this sorry state of affairs. Fact.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Why is it that in this country we have accepted (for decades) gas industry failures, electricity outages + sourcing from abroad, confusion & lack of investment from Government re- subsidies in green energy creation, foreign ownership and sale within a few short years of water, sewage etc, buses belching out particulates, railway signalling failures year after year, relief road building postponed for a decade at a time, uncertainty on need/siting of future airports…..
      Do we just accept 2nd/3rd rate provision of services, or fund it better, make decisions and execute them, remove leaders who fail targets.?

    • kzb
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      In a “market” they are not under any obligation to provide you with electricity, any more than a market trader has any obligation to provide you with bananas. The only obligation is to make money for the shareholders. Hence you will see rationing by price before you see investment in infrastructure to deal with low-frequency events like this.

  27. BR
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Well they’re not the only places. We have power cuts every time there’s anything like a wind. It seems we have power lines via pylons while the other half of the place has underground lines. Since we’re near the divide, we sit in darkness and look at the nearby houses carrying on without issue.

    We’ve had electricity for centuries, isn’t it about time we got the infrastructure fit for purpose in this day and age?

  28. J Bush
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Re; 4. I maybe missing something here. But doesn’t it rely on a specific type of weather condition?

    I would be better pleased if the government announced the removal of all the subsidies of wind and solar power, oh, and electric cars. At least we would know its true viability and what it can actually deliver, without the aid of taxpayers money.

    • Bob
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      UKIP policy.

      “End subsidies for wind turbines and solar voltaic arrays. We will support renewable energy where it can deliver electricity at competitive prices.”

    • Jon Davies
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Think you will find there are no longer any subsidies for those installing solar panels. The FIT scheme closed in April 2019. From October the VAT rate on solar installations rises to 20%.

  29. Gareth Warren
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Here the difficulties of renewables and their inherent lack of storage become apparent.

    Personally I’d like to see the climate change nonsense rolled back and some coal used to help our steel manufacture.
    I’d also like to see the investment made in good nuclear baseline power and also more fast power storage release to make use of existing wind turbines.

    Cheap and reliable energy is vital for any nations prosperity.

  30. Freeborn John
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    With so many off shore wind farms we need to think about resilient links such that there is no single point of failure in the grid. It is unacceptable to lose 1GW of capacity from the Hornsea plant. No short term generation can make up such a colossal amount suddenly becoming unavailable and the problem of a resilient grid that can reroute power will only become more pressing as more and more wind farms are built far out to sea where they can’t be seen from land. The Internet does not go down when individual switches or links fail and neither should the off shore power distribution network.

  31. BrahmS
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    In 1990 I rounded the Heel of Italy to cross the Adriatic hoping to pick up the lights on the Albanian coast. You can imagine my surprise when I got nearer to the coast- there was not a light to be seen- total blackout- only a few gorse fires in the hills- could it be England 2020?

  32. oldtimer
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Questions I would add are an assessment of current overall capacity versus expected demand, how much is on standby and how quickly can it be activated?

    Immediate availability of electrical energy is fundamental to a modern economy as the consequences of this outage demonstrate. There needs to be a margin of spare capacity available for contingencies. Given that a portion of available capacity relies on renewables which in turn rely on wind or sun, it seems to me that the margin of spare capacity needs to be higher than in a system without renewables.

    • Mark
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Capacity was not the problem. It was the rapid fall in grid frequency, caused by too little inertia in the system, which didn’t allow enough time for the reserve capacity to power up and halt and reverse the frequency decline before blackout trigger levels were reached. Inertia is mainly provided by conventional power stations.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        and the answer is? Stick with conventional stations?

  33. BOF
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I bet that no one in Government will ask that the role of renewables be looked into or the ruinous Climate Change Act.

    South Australia has a very high percentage of renewables. They also have about the most expensive energy in the world as well as unreliable with regular outages.

    Small modular nuclear reactors would help but Government will no doubt keep us to subsidised, countryside blighting renewables backed up, of course by huge diesel generators.

    • Jack Leaver
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      BOF you are spot on. Energy is a strategic need for the UK and we must be self sufficient and invest public money to ensure our electricity supply. It is absolute stupidity to blow £85 billion (latest estimate which will probably rise) on HS2 when there is no guarantee that the UK will have enough electricity generating capacity to run the trains. It is clear to me that the money would be better spent on developing future UK energy generation.

      As for SMRs, the Energy and Climate Change Committee issued a report in 2015, see:

      The potential role of small nuclear power:
      Small modular reactors are an attractive proposition and we welcome the Government’s work looking into the feasibility of these reactors in the UK. However, we recognise that the nuclear industry’s immediate priority is rightly the successful delivery of the UK’s current conventional new build programme. (Paragraph 10)

      Cost and investment risk
      The commercial viability of small modular reactors (SMRs) remains unclear. It is important to understand the cost comparison with large-scale nuclear reactors as well as the comparison with other small-scale energy generation. Government should work with industry to better understand the economics of SMRs and set out a clear explanation of the conditions under which they are likely to be cost competitive in the UK. The National Nuclear Laboratory’s SMR feasibility study provides a useful preliminary financial analysis but itself acknowledges that a more detailed analysis is required. (Paragraph 29)

      It is clear to us that Government support will be needed if small modular reactors are to be successfully deployed in the UK. The options for Government are discussed in more detail in Chapter four. (Paragraph 34)

    • agricola
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Ask Rolls Royce if they could adapt marine nuclear power plants to domestic electricity generation. I once asked the but got no response.

  34. Everhopeful
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Reopen the mines. Produce our own fuel that actually works.
    This nation ( what’s left of it) was built on coal.
    Yes OK the mines were the preserve of landowners who wanted to make money..but..
    Renewables are a globalist money-making scam.
    They are so “green” yet they rape the planet, destroy habitats, pollute at will.
    They are now in the process of preventing anyone from pointing this out.
    It is quite amazing really how terribly people have been treated throughout history yet they are still fooled.
    All based on “ You don’t comply….you don’t eat/live!” Not very nice really.

    • APL
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Everhopeful: “Reopen the mines. Produce our own fuel that actually works.”

      A new modern mine, might not need a large manual workforce. Much of the machinery would be remotely operated and some skilled maintenance staff required to maintain the operation.

      We probably won’t be getting such people from (abroad ed) But the way the British education system has been trashed, under successive British governments, you never know.

    • Bob
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      UKIP would seek to rejuvenate the UK’s coal industry, wherever that is possible.

      • Julian Flood
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 3:51 am | Permalink

        Deep mined coal is too expensive. Frack.


    • agricola
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      The answer is to incentivise engineering and scientific tallent to capture the particulate and noxious gas emmissions from coal burning power stations. Succeed and we have created on hell of an export industry.

  35. Alan Jutson
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Firstly we should have enough capacity, as well as spare capacity for the very worst of winter weathers and demand, power generated from our own resources without importing foreign power.

    Yes we should look at renewable generation as long as it is cost effective, and can be worked into the system, which then has enough rapid back up should anything fail or be compromised.

    Yes of course it is sensible to have interconnections with other countries, but surely you should use these as top ups not for standard demands.

    For far too long we have had a lot of hot air debates about renewable, whilst nothing of any real substance is replacing the older and perhaps less efficient generation plants which are being closed.
    Yet another government failure of planning which goes back many decades.

    The simple fact is that for national security we need more capacity available on tap than demand.

    With a growing population, with more and more electronic controls in every home and business than ever before, and with the so called electric revolution of transport (cars) electricity is a vital source which should not be on ration, either by price, emissions, capacity or anything else.

    Yet another problem for Boris to resolve.?

    • Bob
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      “we should look at renewable generation as long as it is cost effective”

      Have you been reading the UKIP manifesto again LL?

  36. Roy Grainger
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    If you let energy policy be set by a 16-year-old schoolgirl what do you expect ?

  37. APL
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    JR: “It appears from the records that there was a 740 MW drop in gas generated power supply (Little Barford) and a 1000 MW fall in wind supply (Hornsea) in quick succession.”

    You see the result of using the UK Power generation system as a toy, for the Greens to play with.

    Windmills can’t spin up in response to a sudden spike in demand or a drop in supply elsewhere in the system. We need a few large Nuclear power stations, like yesterday.

    • APL
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      Question 5 ( unasked )

      Why did all the strategic reserve generation, hundreds of smaller diesel generation units kick in to make up supply.

      After all, these were brought on line just for this eventuality. Now we find out they were expensive and useless.

    • Cis
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Nuclear stations supply base load. They can’t react quickly to changes in demand. A coal-fired station in spinning reserve, yes. But Milibrain’s CCA and Osborne’s Carbon Tax have completed the work of successive previous governments to leave our energy system heading back to the 19th century.

  38. Phil Gilbert
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Such sudden losses in power generation causing loss of supply on a large scale are relatively rare in this country but are inevitable. We need to organise the response to avoid major disruption to rail and air transport and other essential services. The system needs to set up so that domestic supplies can be suspended preferentially. Whilst it is an inconvenience to lose power to ones home, experience of living through the seventies proves it is minor.

    • sm
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Depends on your circumstances: a 93yr old relative of mine who lives alone was quite frightened by it.

    • Martyn G
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      “The system needs to set up so that domestic supplies can be suspended preferentially”. And with that statement you have defined the need for and aim of all houses being equipped with a smart meter, thereby enabling energy providers to remotely disconnect a house, village, town, city or county, as and when required to keep the grid in balance.
      The cover story is that ‘free’ smart meters will enable people to reduce their energy bills, ignoring the fact that we all have to indirectly pay for them via our bills. ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’…..

  39. A different Simon
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    The UK is not the only country which buys French nuclear surplus electricity .

    Germany is a major purchaser too .

    Other countries will also become increasingly larger purchasers of French nuclear surplus electricity as they shut down their fossil fuel electricity generation .

    This implies two things :-
    – Demand for surplus French nuclear electricity will grow and eventually outstrip supply
    – There is going to be a heck of a void when France decommissions it’s 50-60 year old nuclear fleet as it has stated it will .

    • stred
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Most of the UK nuclear capacity will be shut within 10 years as well as French. Three new nukes have been cancelled and Gummer’s goons are expecting to build an extra 15000 offshore wind turbines working at 58% capacity to keep the UK going for heating, transport and to work gas reformation plant for masses of hydrogen. This will cost about 6-7 times as much as natural gas before the carbon tax is added. When they compare gas and coal with wind, they always forget the carbon tax so that wind at a third of today’s price comes out cheaper. It’s a fiddle. There is no one in the CCC or BEIS who understands that wind is not reliable and can’t provide a stable grid.

  40. ADAMS
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Take power generation planning out of the hands of Parliament . They are incapable of thinking straight on most subjects . All the carbon reduction rubbish that they keep voting through on the nod is putting the lights out in the UK .
    The MSM are lunatics about the Climate change scam also . What a deluded country we now have ! UNBELIEVABLE .

  41. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    No one can do anything quickly these days. They have to think about who they might upset and what rules they might break. I am sure that, before responding to the power cuts, a number of meetings would have been needed.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      and then the Government advisors have to investigate does it win or lose votes? Putting it off might make life easier in the future. What level of criticism will it face?
      Yes Minister!

  42. margaret
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    We have to understand that there is a balance in nature. We shouldn’t use too much or too little of any one source of power and have the technology to go between all sources quickly due to cyber technology. We must never give up on ways of improvement. We are an Elgar , British, Scientific, Churchill , Nimrod , ever becoming society, full of positivity ( a preent non existent word) and entrances into the new future. Come on.. problems are meant for solving.If we can imagine it..it can be done

    • roger
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      The laws of physics are immutable and sudden prayers make god jump.

  43. Chris
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    An interesting article by Richard North on the power outages:

    Energy: We’re like Venezuela
    “The wind farm industry was bursting with good news on Friday. Wind was generating as much as 47.6 per cent of our electricity, announced Renewables UK, a body which promotes wind power in the EU. “A new wind record!” it exclaimed.

    Shortly afterwards, Britain’s electricity system went down in a catastrophic failure that deprived nearly a million people of power, stranded thousands of rail passengers and caused chaos on London roads. ……..

    Part of the problem is the obsession with “renewables” such as solar and, particularly in Britain, wind power. We ignore how patchy their contribution is. The wind doesn’t always blow. Relentless green optimism, moreover, has helped divert us from the truth – that there has been no coherent planning for electricity since the Second World War. Our entire national system is dangerously fragile and getting worse…..”

  44. Bryan Harris
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Power cuts or blackouts indeed Lynn? Blackouts are more accurate
    This all brings to mind the inadequacy of planning for our power supplies. I haven’t seen any details recently of how the government is planning to keep the lights on when non-green power stations go offline, but I suspect it’s under developed.
    Are we going to return to the days when factories were only allowed to work part of the week due to an energy shortage?
    Energy is but one of the things the UK government had given up on, expecting the EU to step in and take control of, but now this along with military capability has to be a priority for a post-Brexit government.

  45. forthurst
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    “The government also needs to ask the railway industry why it was unable to quickly adjust services and get trains running as soon as the power was restored.”

    Actually what the government needs to do is to understand that cutting off power to complex systems like the railways and computers present complex recovery problems which have been caused by them and their pathological obsession with unscientific mumbo-jumbo like replacing cheap and reliable sources of electricity with expensive and unreliable sources subject entirely to the vagaries of the weather.

  46. ukretired123
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Ed Miliband’ s legacy as an “Executive Tap Dancer” when as Energy Minister bequeathed us:
    “Last one out turn the lights out” literally, besides sorry no money left Gordon.
    The most efficient of coal fired power stations in the world envied by less developed countries for their reliability were scrapped or turned into imported wood-pellet burning units instead.
    Having assisted National Power in digitally monitoring it’s steam generating activity in some 40 UK units over 10+ years and noting it was run by professional engineers it was lamentable to see it all tarnished and ridiculed by amateur critics when the dirty and inefficient producers were foreign ones in China and India and elsewhere.
    Engineers are more respected in other countries sadly and should be deciding infrastructure and utilities and be appointed to key posts unlike political appointees here.
    The CEO of Roll Royce Holdings Plc is accomplished engineer Warren East ex world class Arm Holdings behind 95% of smartphones and tablets but sold off abroad now Chinese owned thanks to another ETD Theresa May.
    Ed’s many other toxic legacies include Corbyn’s Labour and more too numerous to contemplate as life is too short.

    • forthurst
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Sold to the Japs by spreadsheet Phil: never trust a tory; they’re simply unpatriotic, blinkered, short term schemers.

      • ukretired123
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        Sold on from Japan to China and now UK technical staff have to check Huawei involvement allowed due to security concerns. The French government would have been more protective.
        Labour sadly have a poor track record looking after UK interests especially Blair and Brown.

  47. agricola
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Take this as a warning. Two small hiccups that only go to show how vulnerable we are. We would seem to lack in house capacity to supply our needs and no excess to bring on line to cover the level of failures we experienced. Question, is it like water, a lack of means to move it to where it is needed, or is it a case of not being available to move.

    It puts a serious question mark against the ill considered political drive to electrify personal transport. Never mind whether what is available does what is required of it at an acceptable price. It looks like more virtue politics to me, voiced by the technically clueless.

    The second serious question is why arn’t we fracking. Does the future of the country have to be in the hands of a few vociferous action/nimby groups. We should aim to be self sufficient in power production. Not a time to pander to yurt dwellers.

    Thanks to climate change and available technology most UK houses with south facing rooves could be supplementing their own electrical needs or that of the grid or both. Financially encourage installation and force the electricity companies to pay for power returned to the grid at the same rate they charge for it.

    If we are at the dawn of a bold new era, the above is an area you might consider for radical change.

  48. Otto Leipzig
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    The lack of future resilience in the electricity supply was well flagged up as far back as 2007 when NHS hospitals were warned that a standby generator capacity of less than 35% as then, was inadequate to meet future threats of blackouts and maintain vital services.

    All the Whitehall Oxbridge Arts-based experts poo-pooed this warning and as normal in the UK nothing was done. In the meantime, we closed the baseload coal plants and replaced them with inefficient and unreliable wind power. The consequences were obvious a decade ago but the Green lobby still wail on about it.
    I do hope the idea of small local nuclear generators catches on; that will really make the Greens incandescent with rage.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      So making a few people whom you dislike angry is more important than the safety of your family and yourself? Interesting.

      • stred
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Nuclear power is the safest of all when counting the number of deaths, even including Chernobyl. Modern nukes are even safer.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          As you know, among the many millions of cancer deaths globally each year, it is impossible to quantify accurately those caused by the radioactive emissions of the nuclear industry.

          However, the informed consensus is that they are “significant”.

          Only a cynic would hide behind the statistical difficulties.

          • Stred
            Posted August 13, 2019 at 6:36 am | Permalink

            It is possible to measure natural background radiation and that from nuclear power stations and relate it to cancer deaths. Why don’t you read about it instead of giving sloppy waffle from the uninformed.

      • agricola
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        No it isn’t, but could be looked on as a bonus. Family safety is not in question unless said small nuclear plants become a target for those who disagree with having them. The way we do things in the nuclear UK is to put public safety first. The way protesters behave is often a threat to public safety.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        No it is obviously the other way round.
        The safety of our families and ourselves is more important than upsetting a few extreme lefty greens.

  49. bill brown
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Sir JR,

    To answer your question number 2,

    We import electricity from the Continent during the Summer due to the generation mix in the UK, which is higher of coal and gas than for example France with their nuclear power stations, making our power generation more expensive than the import prices.

    b) We have an additional tax of Carbon Price Support , which also makes Continental imports cheaper, due to the extra generation tax in the UK.

    • stred
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      We have been importing coal generated power from Holland because their carbon tax is lower. When the UK achieves zero carbon the government will not get the carbon tax and will raise other taxes.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      the pursuit of ever cheaper goods and services whilst allowing domestic skills/employment and independence from others to wither away comes back and bites our backside from time to time. Do we take notice? Not a chance.

  50. Sea Warrior
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I would prefer a thorough review to an ‘urgent’ one. And I also want us to reduce our reliance on imported power. Let’s get on with the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) project.

  51. David Maples
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Power cuts? Not possible, don’t be ridiculous!! Actually, it’s not ridiculous, these are likely to happen more and more due to lack of reliable capacity, so get used to it. And let’s all start thinking about how a cashless society will keep going if there are outages, and where all the electricity will come from to power up battery operated cars and lorries.
    This pandering to the green lobby is disgusting and sycophantic.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Yes, all countries should ban bitcoin mining right now.

  52. Mark
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I have made extensive and detailed comments at various internet sites on this event as it affected electricity supply, covering not only what I deduce happened from the available data, but also some of the misinformation that has come variously from the media and their sources. I am considering consolidating this as there have been suggestions that it might aid ministers and others in cutting through the fog of misinformation and denial that usually obfuscates an enquiry, especially where the enquirers may have their own positions to protect, and outlining some of the questions that should be answered. If JR would be interested in a copy, I can send it by email when it is complete.

    • stred
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      You think Mrs Leadsom will understand technical notes or that ministers will read why power cuts happened, when National Grid id carrying out policies required by ministers? It needs someone in parliament like Graham Stringer, Paterson or JR to tell them what is happening.

      • bill brown
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:06 pm | Permalink


        Paterson? Don’t make me cry

      • Mark
        Posted August 12, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        I was considering copying in Lords Ridley and Lilley, long time partner of Graham Stringer in the Select Committee for Energy and Climate Change, and Graham Stringer himself. I suppose I shall add in Rachel Reeves as the Chair of the BEIS Select Committee, although none of the current members are obviously competent in these matters in the same way and Lilley and Stringer were.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      are you afraid of a cover-up? Surely not?

  53. David
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    First thing would be repeal the disastrous Climate Change Act then ask what fat cat head of National Grid has been doing other than liking cream.

    • Cis
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      The CCA and Osborne’s extra carbon tax. Should both be junked. But it won’t happen – Carrie’s another Greenie.

  54. margaret howard
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 4:52 pm | Permalink


    You forgot No 5

    How can we spin it so we can blame the EU?

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      give it a rest Maggie, please.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      MH. What a stupid, childish comment. Much worse than we have come to expect from you Margaret. Or is it?

  55. Iago
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    For objective and scientific comment on this, look no further than ten thousand miles away at JoNova:

  56. Mark
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    The UK is not alone in being threatened by the consequences of incompetent energy policy. It threatens the Continent too.

    The President of the German Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe (Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, abbreviated BKK) is calling on citizens, government offices and companies to be prepared for widespread blackouts.

    In an interview with German national daily Die Welt, BBK President Christoph Unger warned that in the future Germany faced higher probabilities of natural disasters arising from climate change, such as droughts, heat waves and flooding, but said his greatest concern was a power outage.
    Over the years Germany has added more and more volatile supplies of wind and solar power to feed into its power grid. This has made keeping the frequency within the needed range an increasingly difficult challenge. For example, the German DWN here reported how in June earlier this year “Europe’s electricity grid faced multiple collapses” and how grid frequency in Germany had “plummeted several times to such an extent that Europe’s entire power grid had been endangered.”

    Given our dependence on interconnectors, that risk would extend to the UK.

  57. Dominic
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Political virtue signalling by successive spineless UK governments will destroy this once great country. Indeed, I would say their intention is to enslave us through State dependency which allows control of our world

    My contempt for what we are seeing grows day by day as I’m not the only one who can see the direction this political and administrative class is taking this nation and its people.

    The climate change project is pure lies and akin to emotional blackmail using fear.

    Adults being exposed to the political class using a child namely Greta and her idiotic, infantile warblings

    This wouldn’t happen with a Brexit Party government. There’d be no laws attacking our freedoms either

    Start behaving like a Tory party that destroys the tyranny of the minority

  58. John S
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    On the local news, I saw that Ipswich hospital lost power because the generator failed to kick in. When I worked for a water company, the generators for important plant, e.g. large sewage pumping stations and sewage treatment works were tested weekly. The head of maintenance at Ipswich hospital has questions to answer.

  59. mancunius
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    “ask the railway industry why it was unable to quickly adjust services and get trains running”

    I think most commuters would like to know why that doesn’t happen on the other 364 days of the year either.
    The answer is powerful unions enforcing inflexible rota and shift patterns, and managers fearful of making requests: so any emergency becomes a catastrophe as those who might be able to respond ‘go off shift’.

  60. Big John
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    You download the stats csv here (5 minute sample rate) :-


    The fun starts around 2019-08-09 16:05:35 (Times are in GMT not BST).

    It looks like they lost about 800MW in wind and about 400MW of gas power, within 10 minutes.

    The pumped storage was already supplying 300MW, and ramped up to 950MW.

    It also looks like they dropped the amount of power we were sending to Ireland by 80MW.

    Then they only dropped it a further 140MW 1/2 hour later !!!

  61. Julian Flood
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Sir John, the most likely scenario is a frequency surge at the wind array which meant it had to be cut out of the system, then a demand for more output from the gas-powered unit which could not be met. We dodged the bullet this time.


  62. John Gross
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Sir John,
    I think it is important to understand that the problem did not arise because the wind stopped blowing. What seems to have happened here, as in South Australia a couple of years ago, is that the wind got too strong and the whole field shut down suddenly.
    It seems National Grid had a few minutes warning and called the gas station online but that failed to start.
    The distinction between too little and too much wind is very important A loss of wind is gradual and can be allowed for, here the field suddenly went from full power to zero, leaving a big gap in production.

  63. /ikh
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Hi Sir John,

    Many of the comments have mentioned frequency without explaining what it is or why it is important. I hope this helps.

    The Grid needs Generators to produce Alternating Current at 50 cycles a second plus or minus 1/4 cycle per second. I.e 49.75 to 50.25 cycles per second. The Grid has protection equipment that will disconnect a Generator that is outside these limits in order to protect both the Grid and our homes.

    Steams powered Generators have little problem in meeting this requirement, such as coal, gas, and nuclear. They simply spin then turbines at a fixed speed and vary the steam pressure according to demand to maintain the fixed speed.

    Wind Generators find it impossible to maintain this frequency to the require standard. If the wind speed is constant then, in theory, they could maintain the frequency required. However, wind speed is almost never constant at a reasonable generating speed but rather it is gusty. Wind farms can control the maximum speed that a turbine turns at but when the wind drops, the frequency goes haywire.

    The solution that is used is that a wind farm is tied to one or more steam generators that can adjust the load to maintain the 50 cycle frequency. So that when wind speed slows below the average that the wind farm is running its generators at, more load falls on the steam generators, allowing the wind turbines to spin more quickly and maintain the frequency.

    The failure of the gas turbine Generator meant that the wind farm was not longer tied to the correct A/C frequency and I heard a spokesman for the Grid say that the frequency fell to 48 cycles per second. This is the most likely cause for the wind farm being tripped off line. This, in turn, caused an instability to ripple around the grid, causing power outages around the country.

    This problem was exasperated by the lack of reserve generating capacity in this country. Traditionally, we have had 15% reserve capacity both before and for many years after privatasation. Since the drive for renewables, reserve capacity has now fallen to under 5%.
    This is ridicules.

    Standby power is defined by: spinning standby – it can pick up load by opening up the throttle on the steam to drive the turbine harder. 30 second standby comes from turbines that are not spinning at the correct speed ( to conserve energy ) but can be brought up to speed withing 30 second. 5 minute standby is typically turbines that are not spinning at all but either the boiler is at temperature to generate or it is hydro power. There are also longer standbys.

    This was a failure in the grid which is inexcusable at a time of the year when demand is at its minimum. Some serious questions need to be asked and a long drawn out inquiry would just be kicking it into the long grass to avoid answering the questions.



  64. kzb
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Why were we importing power when there was so much spare UK capacity?
    Answer (I suspect) is that it was cheaper. As a leading free marketer our host surely approves of this.
    Also, from France, it is nuclear electricity, so low-carbon.
    Market forces and carbon targets likely favour us importing French electricity as much as possible and closing down UK capacity.

  65. BillM
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    If it was not for the AGW scam, the UK would be running on cheap coal-fired Power Stations as are many Nations in the World. Why are we allowing the religious zealots of AGW to dominate our lives? Is it because they shout the loudest? And receive the most in “Funding”?

  66. margaret howard
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    We had far worse power cuts in the 1960s/70s when most power stations were coal fired.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      That was due to strikes.
      You are being silly.
      What we have now is an increasing demand meeting a reducing supply.

    • Cis
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      But those happened for very different reasons, and most of the blackouts were controlled, if not planned.

  67. kzb
    Posted August 13, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I am pleased this affected London. If it had been merely up north, it would have got a couple of sentences on the BBC News and then forgotten about. Because it affected London, the issue seems to have attracted attention.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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