Blackout in London. Though I'm sure that London is the very last place that will suffer from problems if the Politicians can do anything about it.
This blog post follows on from Here
During a recent inspection at the Heysham nuclear power facility a “defect” was discovered in reactor one. The reactor was shut down and so were the other three reactors that are of the same design. This meant that both reactors at Heysham and both reactors at Hartlepool were taken off line.
Now these two between them generate 4% of the total UK electricity generation, a significant amount to have shut down at the same time. What is worse, this happens at the same time that the UKs power generation is lower than normal due to a pair of coal generators being offline due to fires and one gas powered generator having been shut down due to losing money.
Ofgem being a little optimist estimated that the UK had surplus power generation capacity equal to between 5% and 10% of its needs. I say optimistic because this includes the usual glowing estimate of wind turbine output being constant and at rated capacity rather than the irregular 33% they normally struggle to produce.
5% at worst case, 10% at best case. Nothing to worry about. They are still talking about the winter of 2015 and the spring of 2016 before we drop to 0% to 3% and need to start rationing electricity.
But these four reactors account for 4% of the total and the reason I am writing this is that they are expected to be offline until a time between October and December when they have fully satisfied all safety requirements AND repaired the damage that was found on the one reactor.
Call me Cynical, people do, but I’m thinking either the safety checks will be fudged to prevent the government looking even worse or that we will be into next year before they are all back up.
In addition we have a pair of coal fired generators down.
One at the Ferrybridge power plant in Yorkshire, due to damaged suffered in a fire in July and not expected to be repaired until next year this facility is also not producing its normal contribution to the UKs power.
Then we have the Ironbridge coal fired power plant in Shropshire, last press release from them was that the fire damaged plant there would not be repaired.
In addition we have Barking , a gas fired power plant in east London. This is being closed down by its owners due to it not being profitable. Given the games being played between the EU and Russia at present all it is going to take is for Russia to hint at stopping its gas supply to Europe and the price will go up rapidly making Barking even less viable.
1270MW of capacity down between these three plants. That is 1.27Gw out of the UKs or roughly 2% of production capacity. Now when I was at school which was a long time ago 2 + 4 = 6 and 6 is more than 5. So when Ofgem is saying we have between 5% and 10% of reserve capacity and we have lost as much as 6% of that as we head into winter, that, to me, leaves us just a tiny bit short of power.
Still the owners of Barking can look on the bright side. Because they are currently a functional power plant they have been told they can sign up to the emergency supplies scheme in which case they will be paid to be ready to produce electricity to make up shortfalls. A number of other power stations that have been paid to be on standby by the scheme or which have been mothballed are also now being made ready.
These being power stations that were shut down because they could not meet environmental standards or were old and facing retirement.
Then we have the fields of diesel generators that are paid to be available under the Short Term Operational Reserve (STOR) scheme, the owners of these have been paid simply to have them available and I imagine they are rubbing their hands with glee at the situation and the potential profits they could now make.
This is all happening at least a year early according to the worst case estimates we have been given by the government; their best case has this not happening for years. But then this would be the same government (and the last lot) whose shortsightedness got us into this mess.
So emergency plans that we were told were simply precautions for the future are already in effect, those electricity shortages that you would not think possible in a modern western nation are almost here and the whole environmental justification for shutting down so many power stations is about to be thrown out the window as old plants are being bought back on line to meet the shortfall caused by a failure to pay attention to a problem that has been bleeding obvious for a decade and more.
Companies have already been asked to volunteer to be paid to shut down and not use electricity during peak demand times, if enough companies do not come forward will this be made compulsory I wonder.
So all the fears, all the worries, all the reports of Iceberg ahead, after having been ignored as the words of scaremongers and panic merchants, now they are looming just on the horizon. Not next year, not in a few years, but this coming winter. We are reduced to hoping this winter is mild, a cold winter will push demand to exceed capacity very quickly and all of those old power stations and diesel farms will be paid and paid well to try and cover the difference.
Electricity costs will go up, estimates are by not that much, but since the government is paying most of the costs not included in the household or company bills then the tax payers are paying All of the costs.
So here we are, the 21st century, the seventh richest nation on the planet. An advanced technological nation and we are looking at not being able to keep the lights on if it gets cold.
We have a self serving, corrupt, criminal group of people making up our political class, the very stereotype of a third world nation ruled by a junta or El president for life. The sort of leadership we associate with a nation where shortages of power and water and food are a fact of life.
Tick the boxes that apply to the UK, how many do we need to fill in before we qualify?
How long before the UK becomes a true banana republic?