Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

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adam2
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by adam2 »

Potemkin Villager wrote: Thu Oct 07, 2021 1:02 pm From the horse's mouth.

https://www.nationalgrideso.com/electri ... city-stats

4485 GWh imported vs 146 GWh exported in september.

A long, long way from nett zero which suggests there is a major problem.
Agree, that amount of reliance on imports is shocking. We exported about 3% of the amount that we imported. Interconnectors give valuable flexibility but should in my view be used to export electricity on a similar scale to that imported.
We should be aiming for net zero carbon AND for net zero electricity imports.

Contrary to be the accepted view, I believe that the majority of our electricity imports are from the burning of fossil fuels. Although Europe has significant nuclear and renewable generating capacity, they also burn fossil fuels, and it would be reasonable to assume that almost 100% of the marginal capacity is from fossil fuel plant. So each GW exported to us is almost entirely fossil fuel produced.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by clv101 »

I thought the majority of our imports are French Nuclear.


"MYTH: Interconnectors just import dirty energy from Europe, instead of generating it in the UK
TRUTH: Interconnectors will help the UK to reduce our carbon emissions
Both the UK and EU have set ambitious targets for interconnectors, because they are recognised as the ideal technology to help drive the growth and integration of renewable energy.

The energy mixes of all the countries we connect to are getting cleaner. By 2030, we estimate that 90% of the electricity we import from mainland Europe via National Grid interconnectors will be from zero carbon sources."

https://www.nationalgrid.com/stories/en ... yths-facts
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

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clv101 wrote: Sat Oct 09, 2021 2:41 pm I thought the majority of our imports are French Nuclear.
Debatable.
It is an observed fact and not open to debate, that a large proportion of French electricity is from nuclear.
That however does not tell an accurate story with regard to electricity exported from France to the UK.

France has some natural gas burning generating plant, and a little oil and coal.
These represent the marginal capacity, increased and decreased as needed to meet variable demand. Therefore an EXTRA say 2 GW of demand is entirely from fossil fuel.
If we import more power from France, it MUST come from fossil fuel, it CANT come from nuclear or renewables as these were already fully committed.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by kenneal - lagger »

I can't argue with that Adam.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

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Yes I think a detailed breakdown of the generating mix and import/export profile
would be needed to decide how green or dirty the power transferred across the
inter-connector is. As nuclear is purely base load I think it misleading greenwash to suggest
nuclear generated electricity is exported or imported.

I find national grid's PR pronouncements uniformly upbeat to a degree of
suspicious uniformity and suspect there is a lot of tension between their engineers
and the upper strata of management.

The salient point is the astonishing level of dependence on imported leccy which
is much more extreme than the 70/30% split I had somehow come to imagine was the case!
This suggests a major and worrying lacuna in the GB generating fleet. Probably not a good time
to pick fights with the European neighbours.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

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Potemkin Villager wrote: Sat Oct 09, 2021 7:46 pm Yes I think a detailed breakdown of the generating mix and import/export profile
would be needed to decide how green or dirty the power transferred across the
inter-connector is. As nuclear is purely base load I think it misleading greenwash to suggest
nuclear generated electricity is exported or imported.

I find national grid's PR pronouncements uniformly upbeat to a degree of
suspicious uniformity and suspect there is a lot of tension between their engineers
and the upper strata of management.

The salient point is the astonishing level of dependence on imported leccy which
is much more extreme than the 70/30% split I had somehow come to imagine was the case!
This suggests a major and worrying lacuna in the GB generating fleet. Probably not a good time
to pick fights with the European neighbours.
Information on the generating mix in France is publicly available here, and elsewhere.
[flash=]https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/[/flash]
Information on how much electricity is imported into the UK, or exported from the UK is also publicly available, see the top of this page.

That however does not answer the question "how green are imports from France into the UK" ?

My belief is such imports are entirely fossil fuel generated for the reason given that French fossil use is the marginal generation.

Optimists state otherwise. I also suspect that a certain amount of double counting goes on, with TPTB in France saying "look how green we are, mainly nuclear power used in France" (we do generate a little dirty power, but only to help out our neighbours who have yet to reach our high standards)"

Whilst TPTB in the UK will state "We meet or targets by importing green power from France"
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by Potemkin Villager »

An interesting question is what needs to be done to reduce the import dependency.

At one extreme, if the imported energy is mainly wind generated, you might conclude
all that is required is substantially more UK wind power. At the other extreme, assuming
it is mainly fossil generated, then possibly more dispatchable gas fired generation is required.
So there would seem to be a fundamental contradiction between substituting imported fossil
fueled power with wind energy.

This is quite a problematic area and the right course of action does not seem not at all obvious. I recall
a conversation I had with a Danish student who worked on placement with me one summer
some years ago. She was telling about the problem the Danes had where Combined Heat and
Power plant linked to district heating schemes had to run in the winter to provide heat when Wind Energy
output was very high. She reckoned the wind energy had to be "dumped" at a very low rate
across an inter-connector into Germany! I wonder if this was ever addressed?
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

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I see no harm in importing electricity provided that we also export a similar amount, preferably from renewable sources.
The UK needs a lot more renewable electricity, which means in effect wind and solar.

Tidal power is a future possibility, but studies into future possibilities should not be a substitute for installing more wind turbines and more PV right now.
Hydroelectric power has limited scope for expansion as the best sites are already used.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by kenneal - lagger »

The main problem with most CHP systems is that they provide too much heat for a well insulated house. They would normally provide twice as much heat as power.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by adam2 »

kenneal - lagger wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 3:59 pm The main problem with most CHP systems is that they provide too much heat for a well insulated house. They would normally provide twice as much heat as power.
Agreed, they are more applicable to premises with a substantial hot water demand, hotels, hospitals, industrial laundries and the like. And possibly to the heating of existing buildings that cant be affordably improved and that use a lot of heating.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by PS_RalphW »

Reports that the fire damaged interconnect or will not be fully restored for 2 years.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

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PS_RalphW wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 12:37 pm Reports that the fire damaged interconnect or will not be fully restored for 2 years.
That is somewhat concerning, but only somewhat IMHO, because I do not trust French inter-connectors as a reliable source of electricity due to the risks of breakdowns, of political disputes, and of electricity shortages in Europe.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by Potemkin Villager »

2 years sounds a long time for a key critical project of this nature which suggests
a long lead time on one or other key components or assemblies.

I wonder what they are and where they are sourced and who makes this sort of kit?

Transformers, inductors, hv capacitors and semiconductors? Possibly French company Thomson?

Then the fascinating question where and why it failed in the first place...........

Edit

Found more than I ever wanted to know about these beasts at

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

and amazed at the long history and number of them all around the world.

ABB and Siemens seem to be the main players in Europe whilst English Electric have not
featured for some time.....
Last edited by Potemkin Villager on Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by kenneal - lagger »

Potemkin Villager wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:29 pm ....,....... Then the fascinating question where and why it failed in the first place...........
Perhaps it's the French doing what we are afraid that the Chinese will do if they get to build a nuclear power station in this country. The failure certainly suits their political strategy at the moment.
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Re: Coming shortage of UK generating capacity?

Post by adam2 »

I suspect that the delay in repairs to the fire damaged converter station are due to lack of the rather specalised high voltage semi conductors.

Very high voltage converters are hugely complex pieces of equipment. No known type of semiconductor can handle the voltages involved, therefore many stages are used in series, with VERY careful design to ensure that the high voltage "spreads out" correctly and does not over stress any one section. Each section is known as a "valve" despite use of solid state devices. Until fairly recently they used actual mercury arc valves.

The valve sections are stacked vertically, on large insulators, Each section requires a very low voltage control supply, and providing this is a challenge remembering it might be at half a million volts away from earth. Some early types used dry cells, placed within each valve section, replaced during maintenance shutdowns.
Alternatives included small wind turbines operated by the cooling air flow or solar panels, illuminated by halogen lamps a safe distance away.

https://electrical-engineering-portal.c ... lectricity

Shows views of such equipment. It is an advert, but posted with a clean conscience as I doubt that many of us are buying such equipment.
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