Another Wind Power Collapse has Britain Scrambling to Keep its Lights On (Again)

turbines pylons

Nowhere near as ‘useful’ as they look …


There’s an old adage about ‘bad luck’ coming in threes. For the wind industry its rotten ‘luck’ seems to run in endless crashing waves. Here’s another board-snapping set from the UK.

National Grid uses ‘last resort’ measures to keep UK lights on
The Telegraph
Emily Gosden
4 November 2015

Coal plant breakdowns and low wind power output force National Grid to pay dozens of businesses to reduce their energy usage

Britain was forced to rely on new “last resort” measures to keep the lights on for the first time on Wednesday after coal power plants broke down and wind farms produced less than one per cent of required electricity.

National Grid used a new emergency scheme to pay large businesses to cut their electricity usage, resulting in dozens of large office buildings powering down their air conditioning and ventilation systems between 5pm and 6pm.

The scheme, which is paid for through levies on consumer energy bills, was introduced last year but had never been called upon before.

National Grid blamed the power crunch on “multiple plant break downs”. Several ageing coal-fired power plants had unexpected maintenance issues and temporarily shut down, experts said, reducing available supplies.

The problem was compounded by low wind speeds meaning most of Britain’s 6,500 onshore and offshore wind turbines were barely generating any power just as demand hit its highest.

UK wind farms have a theoretical maximum capacity of more than 13,000 megawatts, but produced less than 400 megawatts of power for much of the peak demand period – meeting less than one per cent of the UK’s electricity needs, published data suggests.


Britain’s 8,000 megawatts of solar panel capacity would also have produced no power during the peak, because it was dark at the time.

National Grid first intervened in the market yesterday lunchtime, issuing an alert to power plants that more generation would needed between 4.30pm and 6.30pm.


The alert, called a Notification of Inadequate System Margin, (NISM), was the first to have been issued since 2012.

Short-term electricity prices spiked as a result, with analysts reporting that one power plant was paid £2,500 per megawatt-hour – about 50 times average power prices.


National Grid later announced that it had also had to use a scheme called “demand side balancing reserve” (DSBR) to reduce demand on the Grid by about 40 MW.

The scheme was one of two emergency schemes first introduced last year to help cope with Britain’s tightening power margins, as old coal plants are closed down and not replaced.


The second emergency measure, which has so far not been used, would see a reserve of old power plants fired up.

Businesses that volunteer to take part in the DSBR scheme are paid a retainer, in return for agreeing that they will receive additional payments to cut their demand if needed. National Grid has estimated the scheme will cost consumers about 50p a year.

National Grid had previously said that the schemes would only be used “as a last resort in the event that there is insufficient supply available in the market to meet demand”. Until Wednesday it had never actually asked businesses taking part to cut their usage.

Flexitricity, one of the companies coordinating businesses to take part in the scheme, said commercial energy users had reduced power at 46 sites, mostly by “turning down building ventilation”. This was primarily air conditioning at offices, it said.

A spokesman for National Grid insisted that the measures taken on Wednesday did “not mean we were at risk of blackouts”, only that “we needed the safety cushion of power in reserve to be higher”.

Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow energy secretary, blamed Government policy for “creating an energy security crisis” while the GMB Union said Britain was in the “bonkers position… where National Grid is using consumer’s money to pay firms to stop work in order to avoid blackouts”.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change declined to comment.


The Telegraph

Good to see the DECC – willing accomplices in implementing Britain’s energy disaster – quick to front up with reassuring words for British power punters! Maybe they were just busy rounding up truckloads of candles and blankets to secure Britons’ winter energy needs?

Earlier in the week we covered the unfolding calamity in South Australia – where a sudden wind power output collapse plunged 110,000 homes into darkness, across most of the State, without warning:

Wind Industry’s Armageddon: Wind Farm Output Collapse Leaves 110,000 South Australian Homes & Businesses Powerless

What’s become painfully clear to the general populace (although probably at times when they’re without the aid of electric light) is that attempting to ‘rely’ on a wholly weather dependent generation ‘system’ is not only fantasy, it brings with it a host of unnecessary risks to life and limb.

STT can’t wait to hear the cynical efforts from wind worshippers to explain and spin away the hundreds of avoidable deaths, that will inevitably occur, during Britain’s fast looming, dark and bitter winter – when wind power output collapses; the grid along with it; and little old ladies freeze to death in their unlit homes.

What started out as sell-able idea about ‘harnessing’ the power of the wind, has turned into an unmitigated disaster. Welcome to your wind ‘powered’ future.


Has anyone seen or heard anything from the
boys from the DECC or the Wind Energy Association?

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    So, from the article can we take it that British people are paying through their energy bills to pay businesses to reduce usage when the ‘wind don’t blow’. If so then they are paying in advance for something they’re not getting! Where’s the logic in that.

  2. It would appear that the UK National Grid (a very profitable private company) and the regulator Ofgem (which is supposed to look after the consumer) base their supply/demand forecasts on the assumption of 22% “Firm” wind capacity.

    Such a concept may make sense if you are trying to minimise the cost, averaged over a year, of providing backup capacity, but this particular consumer is much more concerned with avoiding power cuts in cold winters, so a Firm wind capacity of zero should be assumed.

  3. It’s not a question of whether the actual DECC per se were or weren’t responsible. Like any other department, they have to follow the diktats of Ministers, so in this respect the DECC was the monkey.
    One of the reasons we’ve highlighted this is because the current Westminster Government (and therefore the DECC) is getting flak from the industry and the Scottish Government for measures which they (and consequently the DECC) are taking with regard to trying to shut the gate after the windie horse has bolted. So that’s why, we would think, that the DECC hasn’t commented. Westminster Ministers keep on commenting, loud and clear, but it suits the industry and the Scottish Government to play the blame game. Unfortunately many of the electorate, without a clue what’s been going on, fall for it!

  4. Reblogged this on citizenpoweralliance.

  5. If you think all this renewable rubbish is going to work, you would have to have shit for brains – no other word to describe it.

  6. Great piece as always. We did, though, put this in our intro, just for clarification.

    We have to take slight issue with STT when they say here that the DECC are the authors of Britain’s energy disaster, the DECC having declined to comment on the included Telegraph article.

    It’s fair enough because STT are the other side of the world, and they do such a grand job in covering every country’s wind shambles. In this regard the DECC was the monkey; the organ grinders, and the true authors, were the previous Coalition Government, particularly in the shape of Chris (It Wisnae Me) Huhne and the now styled Ed (It Wisnae Me Either) Davey. The authors who are still penning this black comedy in Scotland are, of course, the Scottish Government, primarily in the shape of Fergus (Flip Flop) Ewing.

    • Point taken, but sometimes tails wag dogs. We’ve amended our description of the DECC. You might quibble as to whether they were accessories before or after the fact in a crime against British humanity, but they’re guilty, just the same.

    • Why would anyone wonder why UK energy policy is in the mess it is now when up until recently it had people like this making the critical decisions? The trouble for Ed Davey was that sooner or later all political flights of fancy inevitably have to face the “Pub Test”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: