UK’s Wind Rush Leaves Grid Vulnerable to Collapse & Power Punters Foot the Bill

light-in-darkness

Shares in UK candle producers set to rocket.

Like the Germans, the Brits are now reaping the whirlwind of their insane renewable energy policy. Not only have power prices skyrocketed, the perverse economics of that policy has left the UK grid vulnerable to complete collapse.

Britain’s energy needs have been so mismanaged – and the incentives filched from taxpayers and power consumers and directed to wind power so obscene – that there is insufficient capacity to operate a reliable and stable grid and little incentive to build it.

Backing a policy – through a fat pile of taxpayer and power consumer subsidies – favouring a generation source that can only ever be delivered at crazy, random intervals was always going to end in tears.

As a foretaste of what those south of the Scottish Border are up for, last week a spike and then collapse in wind power output saw more than 200,000 homes without power in Northern Scotland. Ah, the vagaries of the wind!

And, with the Muppets on both sides of the House in Westminster who appear to have no understanding of the fact that wind power generation is a technology that was simply redundant before it began, there is little or no hope that the Brits will escape the same fate.

Here’s the Wall Street Journal on Britain’s dark and dismal future.

When Britain’s Lamps Go Out; Green policies destroy the economics of power generation.
Wall Street Journal (Online)
28 Mar 2014

On Thursday, the U.K. power regulator Ofgem announced it would refer the six biggest power companies to the antitrust authorities for investigation. Not that there’s any evidence of price collusion, mind you. It’s just that prices for consumers rose by about 9% last October, outpacing the increase in wholesale prices, and so politics demands that something is done.

To anyone who is economically literate the price increases come as no surprise, since Britain faces electricity shortages. A cold winter would push demand to 95% of capacity, meaning a real risk of blackouts.

When markets are working properly, shortages lead to higher prices, which in turn lead to investment in new supply. But U.K. generating capacity is expected to fall further as obsolescent oil and coal plants close. The government is pleading with producers to restart gas plants that are mothballed because they operate at a loss. So why aren’t energy companies putting their increased profits into building new oil and coal plants?

In the last general election in 2010, David Cameron’s Conservative Party endorsed the low-carbon rhetoric of the environmental movement and asked voters to “vote blue, go green.” After winning a mandate, the Tories continued to support the 2008 Climate Change Act that commits the U.K. to reducing greenhouse emissions 80% by 2050, increasing environmental taxes on power to subsidize renewables.

A modern power plant takes about four years to build, and costs can run into the billions of dollars. So regulatory predictability is crucial. Yet both the government and the opposition continue to make green promises that destroy the profitability of the very plants that Britain relies on for its energy security.

The current investigation will only make things worse, since it means a wait of two years to see whether the big energy companies will be broken up. Meanwhile, former Conservative Prime Minister John Major has proposed a windfall profits tax on the power companies. And Labour leader Ed Miliband promises to freeze power prices for 20 months if he wins next year’s election.

Last October during question time, Mr. Cameron blurted out that “we need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges that are putting up bills.” He was promptly attacked by the environmentalists in both his own government and the opposition. Britain’s politicians remain determined to blame greedy power companies for gouging consumers even as they prevent those companies from building economical plants. Who will they blame when the lights go out?
Wall Street Journal

Meanwhile across the ditch in Ireland, wind weasels have just pocketed €10 million under a policy that pays them to shut their fans off when demand is low (ie at night-time when wind power output is usually at its greatest and demand, naturally, at its lowest) – and these greedy boys are set to reap €millions more for producing absolutely nothing at all.

Here’s The Independent reporting on a new brand of audacity.

Windfarm owners were paid €10m not to produce energy
The Independent
Nick Webb and Roisin Burke
20 April 2014

Energy suppliers paid up to €10m last year to wind-farm operators to power down, freedom of information documents supplied to the Sunday Independent reveal.

The cost of broken or shut-off wind turbines was up to €10m in 2013 and could be passed on to Irish consumers in their electricity bills, communications between EirGrid and the Department of Energy suggest. “The suppliers can, of course, pass this cost on to their consumers,” an EirGrid executive said in an email on the subject to a senior civil servant at the Department of Energy.

The amount paid by Bord Gais, ESB and other suppliers for 2013 was up to €10m, according to EirGrid.

However, that cost looks set to soar as the power-down rate of 3 per cent for 2013 is estimated to rise to 10 per cent in 2014, according to EirGrid, suggesting a cost to conventional energy companies of over €30m and a knock-on cost to consumer energy bills. An EirGrid graph on wind curtailments shows them rising 50 per cent further by 2016, which would cost utility companies €40m.

Irish wind-farm operators receive payouts from other electricity providers in respect of “constraints” or “curtailments” where a transmission or distribution line is down for maintenance or where there is a local fault, or when there is high wind at a time of low-energy demand (for example, in the middle of the night) and turbines are shut down due to over-capacity. The same policy is applied internationally.

European energy regulators decided last year that wind farms would receive compensation from the energy market for these shutdowns and it is part of government policy as a way to stimulate the wind energy market.
The Independent

The same policy of paying wind power generators to produce nothing at all operates in the UK, as well.

A while back we reported on the fact that wind power generators were paid almost £5 million to switch off their turbines while storms lashed the UK last Christmas and during the festive period when tens of thousands of homes were left without power. With thousands of homes cut off from the grid, demand for power fell and had wind power generators crying “foul” – demanding the government hand over what are called “constraint payments”.

That fat pile of taxpayers’ cash – happily pocketed by wind weasels as their Christmas bonus – simply added to the £30.4 million paid out in 2013, compared with £5 million the previous year (see our post here).

As if wind weasels pocketing £billions in power consumer subsidies – causing power prices to skyrocket at the expense of real, productive businesses and millions of householders suffering from “fuel poverty” – wasn’t bad enough.

All that economic pain and social suffering to back a power generation source which cannot and will never reduce CO2 emissions never seemed to make a whole lot of sense.

But paying them £millions each year to produce nothing at all is Alice in Wonderland territory.

alice_in_wonderland17

Why not join us? You can earn $millions for producing nothing at all.

 

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Michael Crawford says:

    One correction. In 2010, the Conservatives did not in any sense “win a mandate”.

    Despite facing a Labour government that rivaled Gillard/Rudd for incompetence, rank stupidity and economic destruction, the Tories could not achieve a majority. So they had no mandate as such.

    Cameron then cobbled together a government with the Lib Dems, who obviously found a soul mate in Cameron, despite him campaigning as a conservative.

    The man is a spiv, in the same mould as Blair, just not as smart.

  2. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    It could be construed these companies are receiving ‘social welfare’ payments – money from the public purse to help them in bad times – but what bad times are they in? These companies at the same time increase the cost of their wares to their end customer – thus receiving a double payment.

    If you’re an individual on welfare payments, are you allowed to operate a profitable business as well? Isn’t this a double-dip in to the public purse?
    Who are the fools that allow this and who suffers- the companies or the Governments or the people?

    Governments create the environment and provide the funding for the companies who rub their hands together as they have their hands in two pies at the same time, therefore it’s the Governments who are the fools, and those who suffer are the people they are meant to be working for.

    These once wealthy, progressive countries’ Governments are diving into the depths of depression worse than the ‘Great Depression’. They know it’s happening but are unwilling to take action to stop it – the question is WHY?

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