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Where the National Grid gets its electricity from

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Annetts key

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Moderator note: Split from https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/great-western-electrification-progress.83452


To see where the National Grid gets it’s electricity from, go to here https://grid.iamkate.com/ or to here http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

As of now, electricity generated from gas makes up only 43% of the supply. Note as this is live figures, it may have changed by the time you visit the sites I linked to. So here’s a screenshot.

DE1EADDF-F590-4E00-A4EB-54EF2A4C7C02.png

And as you can see from this set of graphs, the trend is for an ever increasing amount of electricity supply from renewables and less from fossil fuels.
D0C3CF9D-1CB0-4CFD-B490-9BB118CCCFDC.jpeg
 
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Bald Rick

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Gas has averaged 36% for the last year, compared to wind at 24%

Comprehensive details of electricity generation over the past 12 years is available here

 

paul1609

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And tonight Wind Power is generating under 1 GW 2% of demand if we were relying on renewables large parts of the UK would be in darkness tonight, which is kind of why renewables will reach a ceiling of the possible soon.
 

eMeS

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And tonight Wind Power is generating under 1 GW 2% of demand if we were relying on renewables large parts of the UK would be in darkness tonight, which is kind of why renewables will reach a ceiling of the possible soon.

I remember Prof Ian Fells warning about precisely this when renewables started gaining some traction in the energy sector. I think his specific warning was about our being short of power during a cold January with an anticyclone around the British Isles.
 

xotGD

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This is why we need thermal power with carbon capture and storage. Despatchable and low carbon.
 

A Challenge

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Or more nuclear
More nuclear power would be a good way of generating a lot of power (summer baseload is really the maximum without significant battery storage above that needed just for smoothing what renewables we have at the moment), but due to nobody wanting a nuclear power plant near them thanks to mistakes made in the USSR and Japan (OK, I'm not sure you can blame it on them, but the meltdowns happened in their countries) it is very unlikely to happen to any significant level soon.
 

ABB125

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More nuclear power would be a good way of generating a lot of power (summer baseload is really the maximum without significant battery storage above that needed just for smoothing what renewables we have at the moment), but due to nobody wanting a nuclear power plant near them thanks to mistakes made in the USSR and Japan (OK, I'm not sure you can blame it on them, but the meltdowns happened in their countries) it is very unlikely to happen to any significant level soon.
How about building some medium-sized nuclear plants in large underwater spheres out to sea? In the highly unlikely event of a catastrophic failure, all the energy would be absorbed by the water.

:D

On a rather more serious note, perhaps there could be a publicity campaign to promote the benefits of nuclear?
 

21C101

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Average requirement is irrelevant, it is peak requirement that matters as that drives how many power stations you need.

At the moment wind and solar are virtually zero. If that happened during a weekday in normal non covid times on a cold winters day we would need about 50gigawatts of non renewables and would be at risk of brownouts and Thameslink chaos causing frequency fluctuations.

Essentially we avoid power cuts by duplicating renewables with gas and coal power stations that are not used most of the time, and also building huge banks of er.. Diesel generators to back up the grid.

This is extraordinarily expensive and wasteful, and makes the whole green plan something of a window dressing scam, making huge profits fornwealthy landowners with wind turbines and solar farms on their land at our expense (something Michael Moore worked out).

Too much money has gone on a dash for renewables and not enough on developing and implementing mass electricity storage technology so the energy from windy and sunny days can be stored and used when it isn't windy and sunny. ie the cart has been built before the horse.

If this issue wasn't so intractable the steam engine would never have replaced windmills in the nineteenth century.
 
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paul1609

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Average requirement is irrelevant, it is peak requirement that matters as that drives how many power stations you need.

At the moment wind and solar are virtually zero. If that happened during a weekday in normal non covid times on a cold winters day we would need about 50gigawatts of non renewables and would be at risk of brownouts and Thameslink chaos causing frequency fluctuations.

Essentially we avoid power cuts by duplicating renewables with gas and coal power stations that are not used most of the time, and also building huge banks of er.. Diesel generators to back up the grid.

This is extraordinarily expensive and wasteful, and makes the whole green plan something of a window dressing scam, making huge profits fornwealthy landowners with wind turbines and solar farms on their land at our expense (something Michael Moore worked out).

Too much money has gone on a dash for renewables and not enough on developing and implementing mass electricity storage technology so the energy from windy and sunny days can be stored and used when it isn't windy and sunny. ie the cart has been built before the horse.

If this issue wasn't so intractable the steam engine would never have replaced windmills in the nineteenth century.
What storage technology do you suggest would power the UK Grid for say 6 days when a winter high pressure sits over the UK and there is no wind. If you are suggesting storing solar power it would have to last 6 months. Wind powers down to 0.87 Gw this morning !
 

xotGD

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What storage technology do you suggest would power the UK Grid for say 6 days when a winter high pressure sits over the UK and there is no wind. If you are suggesting storing solar power it would have to last 6 months. Wind powers down to 0.87 Gw this morning !
You can use hydrogen as a decarbonised storage vector. Store it underground, as is already done with natural gas, in salt caverns and depleted fields and use it in gas turbines or fuel cells to provide peak power.

The hydrogen can be either 'green', produced by electrolysis from renewable power when output is high and demand is low, or 'blue', produced from natural gas reforming with carbon capture and storage.

Hydrogen also provides a means to decarbonise heat. We can all still have a gas boiler, but fuelled by hydrogen instead of natural gas. It is either that or heat pumps if we are to achieve net zero.
 

HSTEd

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My own position is rather well known on this forum, which is "build all the nuclear reactors".

Indeed that is what my research is for.

Unfortunately it seems likely that nuclear construction will not be significant, which leaves us with the winter-wind-lull problem.

Hydrogen for home heating has such appalling end to end efficiency that its really a joke in most of the climate mitigation research community, heat pumps are the only sensible option for converting heating to zero carbon.

Oh also there are serious safety concerns with mass use of hydrogen in the existing gas system - given that it produces a nearly transparent flame.
 

paul1609

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Looking at that graph, what on earth happened to our solar generation capacity in the last year?
The solar generation is not metered centrally. The total used in most sites is that calculated by Sheffield University whose research is largely paid for by the solar industry. Some commentators have suggested that this is widely optimistic. There has been some suggestion that solar power that largely generates in the summer at off peak times doesn't actually contribute as much to the grid now it is becoming loaded up with wind power on top of the nuclear base.
 

Shrewbly

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The solar generation is not metered centrally. The total used in most sites is that calculated by Sheffield University whose research is largely paid for by the solar industry. Some commentators have suggested that this is widely optimistic.
The argument for the figure being over-optimistic seems to be based around there not being a dip in consumption around midday, but I'm not sure that's a reasonable conclusion. There are tens of thousands of small scale installations - including mine - and the sensible thing to do when you're generating your own power is to use it. So I have shifted much of my use (water heating, washing machine, dishwashing etc.) to the middle of the day, and during that period I will not be exporting much power. Presumably most owners of solar panels do the same - certainly some large scale agricultural installations near here seem to try to maximise the use of their solar power. So maybe the main effect of solar power is to suppress peak demand, and not to feed the grid.
 

paul1609

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The argument for the figure being over-optimistic seems to be based around there not being a dip in consumption around midday, but I'm not sure that's a reasonable conclusion. There are tens of thousands of small scale installations - including mine - and the sensible thing to do when you're generating your own power is to use it. So I have shifted much of my use (water heating, washing machine, dishwashing etc.) to the middle of the day, and during that period I will not be exporting much power. Presumably most owners of solar panels do the same - certainly some large scale agricultural installations near here seem to try to maximise the use of their solar power. So maybe the main effect of solar power is to suppress peak demand, and not to feed the grid.
I think that the argument is against the large commercial operations rather than domestic systems. Your use of your own power is sensible because domestic systems largely don't feed in to the grid. They rely on there being sufficient power demand on the same 415v/230v circuit which in turn reduces the load on the supply transformer. if there is insufficient demand the voltage on the secondary side of the transformer goes high and the over voltage protection in the pv invertor reduces power. In many parts of the country there are maps of the Distributors Networks where their network is unable to accept anymore commercial scale pvs because of this issue on the 11Kv/ 33Kv networks.
 

xotGD

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My own position is rather well known on this forum, which is "build all the nuclear reactors".

Indeed that is what my research is for.

Unfortunately it seems likely that nuclear construction will not be significant, which leaves us with the winter-wind-lull problem.

Hydrogen for home heating has such appalling end to end efficiency that its really a joke in most of the climate mitigation research community, heat pumps are the only sensible option for converting heating to zero carbon.

Oh also there are serious safety concerns with mass use of hydrogen in the existing gas system - given that it produces a nearly transparent flame.
So how much new power generation capacity would we need to build to feed all of those heat pumps on a freezing cold January day?

Heat demand is way bigger than electricity demand, and the variation is much greater between summer and winter.

Storing molecules is much easier than storing electrons.
 

21C101

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What storage technology do you suggest would power the UK Grid for say 6 days when a winter high pressure sits over the UK and there is no wind. If you are suggesting storing solar power it would have to last 6 months. Wind powers down to 0.87 Gw this morning !
Thats the whole point, the technology does not exist and the green funding should have gone into research into developing this technology before building the turbines and solar farms.

Then they cancelled the swansea bay tidal scheme, the one sort of renewable energy that has predictable generation times.
 

Dai Corner

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Thats the whole point, the technology does not exist and the green funding should have gone into research into developing this technology before building the turbines and solar farms.

Then they cancelled the swansea bay tidal scheme, the one sort of renewable energy that has predictable generation times.
Isn't the problem with tidal schemes that, predictably, their peak output won't coincide with peak demand most of the time? So you'd still need storage.
 

HSTEd

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Isn't the problem with tidal schemes that, predictably, their peak output won't coincide with peak demand most of the time? So you'd still need storage.

Storage on the scale of hours is not the major issue, the major issue is storage on the scale of days into weeks into months.

So how much new power generation capacity would we need to build to feed all of those heat pumps on a freezing cold January day?
Well my baseline is somewhere in the vicinity of 100-200GWe nuclear. But that is for an entirely nuclear dominated energy system.

Heat demand is way bigger than electricity demand, and the variation is much greater between summer and winter.
Well the facile answer to this is to encourage the widespread use of air conditioning units, flattening summer and winter demand.
But in reality there are plenty of things to do with summer production.

Maintaining current use of aviation fuel from zero carbon synthetic sources would require 30GWe or so averaged across the entire year!
Storing molecules is much easier than storing electrons.
Yes, but for heating purposes you get far less heat out of a electrolytic hydrogen fueled boiler than you do out of a heat pump.
 

21C101

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These guys are making the most promising long term energy storage progress to my mind.

If I was king I would make it illegal to install turbines unless these were built next to it (or at the land end of the undersea cable


 

paul1609

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Wind is barely making 1GW again this morning and our ageing nuclear plants have dropped below 4GW. Is it time for the government to be introducing an Emergency 70mph speed limit on electrified railways to save energy?
 

Domh245

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Wind is barely making 1GW again this morning and our ageing nuclear plants have dropped below 4GW. Is it time for the government to be introducing an Emergency 70mph speed limit on electrified railways to save energy?

Seeing as total UK electric train consumption in 2019/20 was 4,256 million kWh, and generation in 2019 was 324,800 million kWh (1.31%), I don't quite see how that'd solve the issue...
 

SargeNpton

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Thats the whole point, the technology does not exist and the green funding should have gone into research into developing this technology before building the turbines and solar farms.

Then they cancelled the swansea bay tidal scheme, the one sort of renewable energy that has predictable generation times.
The Swansea Bay scheme, based on reports in Private Eye, had several ecological drawbacks, had a very dodgy financial case and seemed to involve other parts of the developer's business empire getting lots of money (e.g. a quarry in Cornwall for which he wanted grants to build a new port so that the rock could be shipped to Swansea).
 

HSTEd

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The Swansea Bay scheme was a worse version of the proper Severn Barrage.

The nuclear plants dropped below 4GW because Heysham 2 Unit 7 tripped out unexpectedly, many of the others are shut down for off load refueling.
 

158756

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The progress made in recent years is fantastic, but today is really showing off the shortcomings of renewable energy. At the peak demand was around 42GW, which was supplied by

Gas 23GW
Nuclear 4GW
Coal 3GW
Biomass 3GW
Pumped Storage 2GW
Hydro 1GW
Wind ~0.5GW
Solar 0
Imports 5GW

Days like this will need a heck of a lot of storage if fossil fuels are ever to be eliminated. In the short term, those coal and most nuclear plants are closing in the next few years - more imports look to be the likely solution, but those are only green as long as we can lean on the French nuclear fleet - it isn't windy anywhere in Europe today. And is losing the ability to keep the lights on independently really such a good idea?
 

HSTEd

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Something like half the AGR fleet will be replaced by Hinkley Point C in capacity terms.
If Sizewell C gets the go ahead in budget the nuclear contribution will remain at about a peak 7GW.
 

paul1609

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The progress made in recent years is fantastic, but today is really showing off the shortcomings of renewable energy. At the peak demand was around 42GW, which was supplied by

Gas 23GW
Nuclear 4GW
Coal 3GW
Biomass 3GW
Pumped Storage 2GW
Hydro 1GW
Wind ~0.5GW
Solar 0
Imports 5GW

Days like this will need a heck of a lot of storage if fossil fuels are ever to be eliminated. In the short term, those coal and most nuclear plants are closing in the next few years - more imports look to be the likely solution, but those are only green as long as we can lean on the French nuclear fleet - it isn't windy anywhere in Europe today. And is losing the ability to keep the lights on independently really such a good idea?
I don't think that any further interconnectors will be cheap, as I understand it the Kent Loop of the super grid is more of less at capacity because of the risk of a fault disconnecting one leg of it. This was I think the rationale behind the second French Interconnector going to Hampshire.

Something like half the AGR fleet will be replaced by Hinkley Point C in capacity terms.
If Sizewell C gets the go ahead in budget the nuclear contribution will remain at about a peak 7GW.
But Hinkley Point is not programmed to reach full capacity until late 2028 at the earliest. Most of the AGR fleet will have been long gone by then. Is there actually a timescale for Sizewell C once (if) it gets approved?
 

HSTEd

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But Hinkley Point is not programmed to reach full capacity until late 2028 at the earliest. Most of the AGR fleet will have been long gone by then. Is there actually a timescale for Sizewell C once (if) it gets approved?
On Sizewell C, not that I am aware of -although I am sure someone knows.

Some of the AGRs will probably hold out until 2028.
(Torness, Heysham 2 and Dungeness)

EDIT:

Apparently predictions are in vicinity of 2031 for Sizewell C.
 
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