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Britain facing power cuts this winter

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posted on Sep, 26 2008 @ 07:08 AM
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www.dailymail.co.uk...#

A good enough reason to make a few sensible precautions, like get some bottled gas powered camping lights and cookers/ heaters, buy some Chem light sticks, candles, flashlights etc




posted on Sep, 26 2008 @ 07:19 AM
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My post from the other thread:


Not sure if anyone noticed, but this story was covered with a much less alarmist slant to it by the BBC. They mentioned nothing about this winter, just that if demand kept creeping up and plans to decomission aging plants went ahead whilst there are no clear plans to build any more, then we might have an energy crisis in 5 years as 1/3rd of the generating capacity is due to be decommissioned by 2020.

Not the same as "this winter". Typical Daily Mail hype and tripe.

news.bbc.co.uk...



The UK will experience prolonged power cuts in about five years unless urgent action is taken now, a report warns.

It said a third of generation capacity was due to be decommissioned by 2020, but was not being replaced fast enough.

The report, by nuclear supporting Fells Associates, said new reactors would not be ready in time, and questioned spending on renewable energy.


I work for a company that has close dealings with the National Grid (details of which I cannot divulge too much).

Total UK domestic demand is only 30% of capacity, the rest being used up by indurstry (you know, keeping the PC's and lights on in offices at night, that sort of thing).

In the event of there being a power crisis, domestic supply supercedes industrial supply and many industries have back up generation anyway, which the Grid can actually call upon to add power back into the network. This is called STOR (Short Term Operational Reserve) and although only meant to be a temporary stop gap in the event of a sudden loss of generating capacity or a spike in demand, it is one of the many tools available to ensure domestic supply.

Basically, this shouldn't have been a problem, but the Government has dithered so long about how to generate power it's made critical issue where there shouldn't have been one.

It's cutting it fine in relation to bringing new plants online and taking others off. I expect they'll fudge it and "extend" the life times of some older plants while they obfuscate more and blame the Tories.

EDIT: Checked with my colleaguies at the Grid and total "load factor" of the UK is currently around 70% of capacity, so currently there is no need to panic.



posted on Sep, 26 2008 @ 08:18 AM
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Originally posted by stumason
EDIT: Checked with my colleaguies at the Grid and total "load factor" of the UK is currently around 70% of capacity, so currently there is no need to panic.


Can i just ask you, as you seem very informed on this issue, how much more capacity is used during the winter months? Especially with an aging population that has to use more heating.



posted on Sep, 26 2008 @ 08:21 AM
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reply to post by stumason
 


Oddly enough my contacts who work for NEDL and British nuclear say we are at 96% capacity most days and as reported by Channel 4 last week on many occasions we have to cal upon the french nuclear supplies many evenings to top up our shortfall.



posted on Sep, 26 2008 @ 10:19 AM
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reply to post by Northern Raider
 


Maybe 96% capacity for the Nuclear industry (those two companies you quoted), but the entire generating capacity of the UK is more than enough for demand.

Granted at times generators will be offline for maintainence etc and yes, we do have a huge interconnector between us and France, run by the Grid, which quite often has electricity flowing the other way too...

EDIT: I also doubt it's "most evening". I attended a meeting at the Grid control centre just a couple of months ago and got given the gory details. Endless charts, graphs and maps. At no point was there ever a problem with supply, it's all down to price. If it's cheaper to have it piped in from France, rather than keepping generators spinning in the UK, then that will be the way it's done.

[edit on 26/9/08 by stumason]



posted on Sep, 26 2008 @ 04:18 PM
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Originally posted by stumason
reply to post by Northern Raider
 


Maybe 96% capacity for the Nuclear industry (those two companies you quoted), but the entire generating capacity of the UK is more than enough for demand.

Granted at times generators will be offline for maintainence etc and yes, we do have a huge interconnector between us and France, run by the Grid, which quite often has electricity flowing the other way too...

EDIT: I also doubt it's "most evening". I attended a meeting at the Grid control centre just a couple of months ago and got given the gory details. Endless charts, graphs and maps. At no point was there ever a problem with supply, it's all down to price. If it's cheaper to have it piped in from France, rather than keepping generators spinning in the UK, then that will be the way it's done.

[edit on 26/9/08 by stumason]


I can tell you all for nothing that I was working in the Irish Sea gas platforms only 2 years ago.

We were doing some work and got chatting to the engineer who oversees the rig ops and is always out and about.
Well he let slip that in the winter of 2005 the country was *This* close to major gas shortages. He could say this cause it was the Morcambe bay gas platforms that went into emergency shutdown (due to a fault).
This fault was a real btch to fix and it took them longer than normal due to freezing conditions.
Get this, Downing street were on the phone every 30 minutes demanding to know exactly how long it would take to restore production.
I know we import a lot of gas but we still produce a fair bit as well.
The knock-on effect of one platform having a wee problem can extrapolate as the MINISCULE gas storage facilities in Britain are depleted in mere days.
Trust me, having only 5 - 7 days worth of gas storage is an absolute scandal given the gas reserves of the UK.
You rely on someone else for power and you are practically letting someone else pull your parachute each and everytime.


[edit on 26-9-2008 by WatchRider]



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 03:22 AM
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reply to post by WatchRider
 


Yes, it is scandalous that we're in this position, although the gas situation is not really down to supply problems per se, as you stated, but more down to a lack of storage in case of emergency. the same goes for oil/fuel.

It's classic Labour, spending money where they shouldn't or where they think they can win votes and not spending money on what is coined "critical national infrastructure". They've been in power ten years and this country has gone down the crapper.

reply to post by ImaginaryReality1984
 


Good question and I was given the answer amongst various slides during this meeting, but for the life of me I cannot find it right now! From memory, even during the winter months, generating capacity is well above demand and like I and another poster pointed out, should the unforseen happen and a generator goes offline, there are other ways to get power into the nation.

Try not to take this particular article too seriously. It's typical Daily mail spin where they took a slightly worrying report and made it seem like the world is about to end.

I do believe the Government has finally got it's finger out, of sorts, as is giving the green light to several projects ranging across wind, tide, new clean coal and even, although not finalised yet, new Nuclear stations.

It's just that in typical Government style, they wait till the last possible minute before acting. They are cutting it fine....



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 05:10 AM
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Originally posted by stumason
Try not to take this particular article too seriously. It's typical Daily mail spin where they took a slightly worrying report and made it seem like the world is about to end.


I'm not taking it seriously. I read the full report not the daily mail hyped up trash of a paper. 2020 sounds like the more worrying date, although i'm sure we'll have kicked our arses into gear by then.


Originally posted by stumason
I do believe the Government has finally got it's finger out, of sorts, as is giving the green light to several projects ranging across wind, tide, new clean coal and even, although not finalised yet, new Nuclear stations.


I love the idea of renewable energy sources, but we're just not there yet. I think new nuclear plants are the best idea, considering how safe the new designs are.


Originally posted by stumason
It's just that in typical Government style, they wait till the last possible minute before acting. They are cutting it fine....


Well if they start building in the next few years we should be fine. I wish papers like the daily mail wouldn't hype all this stuff, it's what makes everyone so afraid.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 05:49 AM
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The thing about National Energy that really grips my S*** is the fact that another foreign power has control of it.

As far as I am concerned the Energy power production and storage facilities should be considered a part of National Security alongside the Armed Forces and therefore sacrosanct and British owned.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 05:58 AM
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reply to post by Wotan
 


How does another foreign power have control?



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 07:06 AM
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Originally posted by stumason
reply to post by Wotan
 


How does another foreign power have control?


Maybe not total control, but its early days yet. I hate the fact that 'someone else' has even a stake in OUR energy resources, let alone the water supplies aka the French.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 09:19 AM
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reply to post by Wotan
 


Just to allay fears about "foreign ownership".....

Whilst foreign companies have a stake (or "own" entirely) elements of our infrastructure, it is not as if they can just turn them off, take them home or otherwise screw us over.

In a moments notice, the Government can seize control back of any utility, service, industry or even your house, should they so wish.

The foreign companies own the stock in firms that in turn operate the utilities under license. Should they fudge up or try to screw us, they will lose the right to operate, but that doesn't mean the utility stops working, it will be just taken over by the State and sold on again or run in house (al a Railtrack). The only people exposed to any risk from foreign ownership are the foreign owners themselves.

Like I said, it's not as if they can just pack up and take the infrastructure back to whatever god-forsaken land they come from!

Amongst the various Laws that Government can call upon is the DOTR Act, which basically gives the State the power to do whatever it pleases for the sake of the nation.

Do not fret! We're basically paying these people for the hassle of operating and running the infrastructure, and getting a good deal too. But at the end of the day, the State can seize those assets back and, hey presto, they're "British" again....



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 09:26 AM
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Fairly cool comments all round.

I think what Wotan is saying is that, due to various reasons, Britain has become a Net importer of fuel such as natural gas from overseas sources.
The Russians are one such source.
A Persian Gulf pipeline will be on-line in the next few years meaning we can import gas from the Arabs, this is not as crazy as it sounds for if the Russians 'turn the screw' the Arabs can be a fall-back option. By arabs I mean the Saudis who, despite being Sharia law dudes. Put energy and fuel deals first when dealing with westerners.
Unlike the Russkies the Arabs are usually more receptive to business and keep politics to one side
This is crazy, but such are the ways.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 09:41 AM
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reply to post by WatchRider
 


Well, when it comes down to the resources themselves, we don't really have much of a choice. Your right about the Arabs though, they do business first and leave politics to one side. They know where their bread is buttered.

The Russians on the other hand use their supply as a bargaining chip and from their point of view, maybe that is the right thing to do. From our POV though, it sucks!

Hopefully, we can ween ourselves off the Gas when the new clean coal tech comes in. We have HUGE coal reserves here, enough to last for a century or two, plus there will be thousands of jobs created down the pits again and they'll be well paid jobs too.

At the moment though, the majority of our generation comes from Gas, so we kind of tied ourselves into a knot. Typical short-sightedness from the Politicians though. In the 70's and 80's when we started to change over to gas, it was plentiful and we were self reliant. Now about 20% of it is imported and we have done ourselves in. It's not the Russians or anyone elses fault that our leaders are inept


Nuclear and coal will give us energy independence, which is key to controlling the spiralling costs, but do our "leaders" have the cajones to plump up a few Billion now to save even more in the future? I hope so!



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 09:41 AM
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Thanks Stumason for your clarification that UKGOV can take back UK energy resources at any time. I dont like to think that the French or any other nation could hold us to ransom.

I still think that 'we' should own our own energy resources though.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 09:47 AM
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reply to post by Wotan
 


In an ideal world, yes, but there are bonuses to be had from foreign ownership per se.

One thing is that they tend to bring with them significant investment in new infrastructure. If you take what I said before on board, then realise that these guys are also paying for NEW stuff too (rather than the tax payer if they were State owned for example), then we're ultimately quids in!

EDIT: EDF is a good example. A French firm, I believe (may be wrong) that is spending huge sums of cash building more generating capacity (such as wind farms and power stations). If they properly fudge up, or try to hold us to ransom, then we'll just take those new shiny toys off them and not even have to compensate them for it.

[edit on 27/9/08 by stumason]



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 10:29 AM
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As if by magic, I produce a rebuttal of rumours of a Winter Blackout from the grid themselves:




Fear of power blackouts dismissed

The National Grid says fears of winter power blackouts are unfounded, and denied that surplus capacity is low.

The energy trader Inenco says the UK could face power blackouts "within weeks" if a sudden cold snap or unplanned power outage occurs.

But the National Grid says it will be maintaining 4000MW of spare capacity throughout winter - a safety net equating to four large power stations.

Work on coal and nuclear plants is no threat to emergency capacity, it said.

Talk of blackouts has been escalating this week, since the National Grid published its latest forecast of power supply and demand over the winter months.

The update revealed that in November, predicted surplus capacity had dropped as low as 800MW - leading to newspaper reports that it would take just one power station failure to cause a blackout.

news.bbc.co.uk...



[edit on 27/9/08 by stumason]



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