Intermittent renewable energy can, and I repeat can, generate 10% of our UK requirements. And that includes bio-mass and hydro as well as wind. At the same time our industry is closing coal powered generation to comply with EU diktat of a dubious and false climate and CO² scenario. World wide one thousand coal fired power stations are being built. Germany’s expansion into coal is well documented and will be opening 10.7GW of new coal between 2011 and 2015. RWE, which has recently announced the closure of Abertawe(1.55GW), generates no less than 53% of it’s energy in Germany from lignite(Brown Coal), one of the least environmentally acceptable sources. The Netherlands has announced the opening 3 new coal fired power stations this year. Coal is probably at it’s cheapest for many years driven down by US coal competing with shale gas. Now in the UK we have SSE announcing the closure of Uskmouth B (363MW) and Ferrybridge (2GW) to add to RWE’s Abertawe (1.555GW) and E-on’s Kingsnorth (2GW). Centrica is also selling three of their gas fuelled power stations, Stallingborough (1.285GW)and Killingholme(665MW) on the Humber and Langage(885MW) in Devon. An interesting fact is that all these power stations employed real people in comparison with the few mystical employees of the wind industry. Uskmouth B employed 83 UK employees on site and I expect a great many more in the supply chain. The other interest is the age of the plants. Uskmouth B was fifty years young, Ferrybridge fifty five, Abertawe forty three. In fact mostly over twice the advertised life of a wind farm. This is the thin end of the wedge with many more planned for closure over the next seven years. What this small sample equates to is “The Capacity” of over two thousand wind turbines or 20% of our UK wind fleet(ref: Renewables UK) for just four power stations which combined produced nearly 6 GW of energy available 24/7/365! Remember capacity is not available energy but the maximum available, if deliverable, at optimum usable wind speeds if applied all over the UK. A situation which is as rare as hen’s teeth!
First let us agree that these were old power stations but if Germany finds it viable to upgrade it’s fossil fuel power stations why can’t the UK? We are now seeing countries realising that carbon capture is unrealistic and un-necessary. Of course now the genie is out of the bottle no operator will redevelop coal without subsidy. So perhaps the time has come to take these old power stations back into national ownership and create a fall back generation capacity away from the avaricious control of mostly foreign companies. This from someone who is normally very suspicious of nationalisation and who remembers how bad nationalised industries were in the past. However a quantity of state owned power generators which are required to compete in the marketplace would be a new model and may work. However they must operate in the real subsidy free world and outside the normal state umbrella of grants and state support.
And why are many of these power stations closing early. Because the imbalance of the Grid which gives preference to wind when available and adversely effects the viable operation of 24/7 generation. Basically our politicians, and I point an accusing finger at Ed Miliband(Energy Minister – 2008 to 2010), Blair(signed the Climate Treaty against the advice of his staff at 4.00am when he felt rather emotional[?]), Huhne and Davey, have totally ruined our industry and still cannot see their culpability.
From the engineer’s mouths, we heard this week that solar and on farm wind are a nightmare to the energy companies as there is no ability to control or predict them. We also heard that the North of Scotland outage was still being investigated and Swinney’s comments that it was not wind were frankly unquantifiable at this time. Did he lie or was he mis-informed? There is good evidence that it was a relay at Knocknagael but that does not establish the why and how. Knocknagael was
expanded to handle the south of Inverness wind farms. When challenged directly the engineers failed to disagree that wind had some input to the causes of the outage. Not an agreement but not a denial either.