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« The UK just struck oil | Main | Obama and the climate change musical »

A scrap of good news

There is some good news on the energy crisis front, albeit only a small scrap. This is the announcement by EDF that they are going to extent the life of Torness nuclear power station to 2030 - it was originally meant to close in 2023. 

That said, it's going to make precious little difference to the energy crisis that is currently threatening us, and may even overwhelm us next winter, as Euan Mearns sets out in this recent post.

I'm going to be on BBC Radio Scotland shortly to discuss what the Torness decision means. 

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Reader Comments (31)

I wonder if they will have to fuirther reduce the maximum power from the current~1200MW, which was reduced from the original ~1360MW.

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:15 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Subject of phone-in is 9-10am live "Is it important to you that your energy is clean and green"
Wow is Kay coming round ?
She allowed listener Anna to say that Wind and Green are overrated
Now @robedwards53 the Green journo guy is on
"Nuclear power is neither clean green or reliable" the
Kay points out that 30% of Scotlands power is from the 2 nuclear stations

Rob is saying "wind is predictable, you know when the wind will blow he's throwing supposition about increased nuclear danger

Sarah Beattie Smith from Scotland Green Party "oh it's shifting the focus from the Green Agenda
"The Scottish Gov supports nuclear extensions"

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:17 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

"Wind is predictable?
Not half as predictable as Rob Edwards, that's for sure.

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:30 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@MYJ You can wind back in the play and hear him say it mate

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:31 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Twitter is foaming with angry greens now about the @kayeadams prog on @BBCRadioScot

"A cold windy morning and still nuclear =2xwind. Need to keep lights on in transition. "

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:35 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I take it a deal has been done? Anybody seen/heard anything about how much EDF is being guaranteed to extend the life of the 4?

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:39 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

9:39 and Bishop is live
"Nuclear industry has a good safety record.
So expensive due to layers of safety rules
, no one died from radiation at Fukushima
niuclear is safer than many other forms of energy"
Now RobEdwards takes op to answer back saying nuclear is expensive and dangerous, not reliable , only exists cos of nuclear bombs.
....and is trying to talk on and on
- Kay has let Bish back in
Hes saying new designs will be cheaper
- got in the point , do something about this years crisis : reneablesd too unreliable, nuclear too expensive so go with gas
..He puts the point that Green is a nice thinking to have, but the priority is to have ENERGY
(he should have said "reliable" energy)

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:43 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

According to R5 earlier, four stations are going to be kept in service for between 5 and 7 years longer than previously planned.
That's a useful chunk of dispatchable power.

PS. Just spotted that Green Sand was quicker on the draw!

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:45 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

Jackie says ..why haven't we been building economic power stations already?
..even nuclear..

Insulation guy was OK, but pushed a fantasy about new Scottish homes should have solar

-Next guy , saying Green energy is the most expensive ........end

(I note Rob Edwards was on a lot earlier that Bishop was he got 2 bites of the cherry)

prog Audio coming soon

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:57 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

"wind is predictable, you know when the wind will blow

Not really. The difference between day ahead forecast and outturn is often rather more than a typical 660MW genset.

Feb 16, 2016 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

As DECC is managed by the Climate Change Committee, should we prepare specimen charges of Corporate Manslaughter, in order to arraign the members of that committee when avoidable power cuts cause the death toll to accelerate?

Crown Immunity? Only when under the direct control of a Government Minister.

Feb 16, 2016 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Darn Kaye spoilt it by coming back after the news to read an email about
: ''You won't have to worry about green energy when the temperature of the planet gets to 300C due to us not caring about it'

Over on Twitter activists are trying to stir.... NOT about nuclear accidents
but about errors exposed in mock exercises ...(well that is why you hold mock exercises)

Feb 16, 2016 at 10:15 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Our dire predicament is revealed by the fact that some baseload capacity is retained for a bit longer ON THE WHIM OF A PRIVATE COMPANY. The current electricity system is clearly not fit for purpose, greenies may get most of the blame for crashing the car, but the car is anyway a death trap (literally) due to privatization.

At the very least the govt should buy up all closing power stations, refurbish them and lease them back to the private sector, retaining ownership.

Feb 16, 2016 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

@ NCC 1701E

I have often thought that it would concentrate the minds of politicians wonderfully if they were held legally responsible for ensuring that Britain's energy supplies were both adequate and secure. It just takes competent engineers to work out what generating capacity we need over the medium term at least, say the next 7 years or so. If politicians deliberately close down power stations to meet our CO2 targets (actually they are not "our" targets - they are the politicians' targets) before adequate replacements are ready then they should end up in gaol. That goes not just for the present government but also those of the Blair - Brown regime.

Feb 16, 2016 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Appropriately there was a power cut yesterday afternoon around my way, West of London.

Feb 16, 2016 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterjs

The Nukes have been condemned..have they not? In that the technical risk has risen to a point that the safety case requires that they be de-commissioned (end of safe life). Its a worry that suddenly they are extended...just like that!

@NCC 1710E...thats what the H&SE is supposed to do and I don't think the Crown Immunity stands does it? I would have thought that a review of the plant safety case was done with H&SE? All very quiet on this topic though.

Feb 16, 2016 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

Heysham 1 and Hartlepool will have their life extended by five years until 2024, while Heysham 2 and Torness will see their closure dates pushed back by seven years to 2030.

.... which presumably means that Hunterstone b will close as scheduled in 2023. That will leave us with Torness (1.2GW) and hydro (1 GW) to satisfy demand of over 5 GW in winter.

Feb 16, 2016 at 11:30 AM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

More trouble. Shareholders of EDF fear building the Hinkley Point nuclear plant will be financial suicide for the company “despite a commitment by the British Government to pay double the market rate for the station’s electricity”.

Feb 16, 2016 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterEForster

And don't forget that under the new devolved powers the SNP want to grow the population..taxes have to come from somewhere? That means more demand for power at the awkward time of day/year...a lot of it and reliable.

Am listening to R. Scotland piece...Nukes have been shut down unexpectedly (seaweed and stuff) so is not reliable? If you don't build backups for critical systems then output won't be reliable. The trade offs are not considered well and most everything is about trade-off. Hydro....?

Premise is CO2...and ruins our industry and those that need to be brought on to lead it.

Feb 16, 2016 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

While the prog is still on until lunchtime you can listen by clicking the link and winding back

I just noticed Rob Edward talking as if the Fukushima area is uninhabitable ..Em no the latest news show people live nearby and that the radiation levels are the same as Europe ..One thing is they were lower than Europe before Feb 2016 news

Because natural background radiation levels in Fukushima are lower than the world’s average, even when the extra radiation dose from the nuclear disaster is added, the external exposure of Fukushima residents did not differ significantly from those measured in other parts of the world, they said."
Seems from the map that some areas as near as 5Km are zoned as livable but some ones in a 3Km strip upto almost 40Km are not.

Feb 16, 2016 at 11:54 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

@Ex-expat: my comment was more general. DECC must ensure safe, despatchable power has to exceed expected demand so the Grid does not shut down in parts or as a whole.

Windmills and solar are not despatchable so must be backed up by sufficient off-line despatchable plants that should wind drop to zero at night, there is no effect on the Grid's capacity to deliver essential power.

It comes down to educating the greenie, non-technical freaks like Rudd and Leasom and their arguably Marxist boss that because major power cuts can cause immense loss of life (inner cities will die and so will the people as the mob runs wild after 3 missed meals), if there is a major power failure, it should have been anticipated BY THEM. Corporate manslaughter beckons.

Feb 16, 2016 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Having problems posting in Unthreaded:

In order to control spam, please type the characters you see in the box below, then click 'Confirm Post' to continue with this post.
An internal error occurred: 52BE256F11262.A14DC0E.A809EB87

No box displayed. Confirm Post and Make Changes both produce a similar error.

Feb 16, 2016 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

This won't be the only piece of generating capacity that turns out to have its life - er - extended....

Feb 16, 2016 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

If there is a Brexit the UK might not be barred buying in French Nuclear and German Coal fired Electric

Also if there is a Brexit EDF might be pressured to pull out the UK altogether.

Feb 16, 2016 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:31 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Of course wind is predictable. Some incredibly irritating character points at a map of the UK and predicts it a zillion times, every day. What Greenie-Boy wanted the listeners to believe was that wind is dependable, which is quite a different thing. You can predict that there will be very little wind, in which case a wind turbine is useless, and you can predict that there will be Storm Barbie, or whichever other daft name they are up to, by now, which will require the choppers to cease and desist.

In between, there are those moments when the wind farms contribute predictably tiny amounts of electricity to the grid.

Feb 16, 2016 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

Feb 16, 2016 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

If there is a Brexit the UK might not be barred buying in French Nuclear and German Coal fired Electric

Also if there is a Brexit EDF might be pressured to pull out the UK altogether.

I can't see why, unless Britain becomes an unprofitable market for them (not an especially likely contingency, in the current landscape), foreign energy companies will feel any need to head for the doors. I shouldn't worry about Stasi-babe Merkel. I think her political career is already on the home straight.

Feb 16, 2016 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

Did anyone hear the discussion on the Today programme about this, featuring Tom Burke of E3G and Malcolm Brimstone of Imperial?

According to Tom Burke:

1. Nuclear is the cause of our headaches: it was two nuclear power stations going off that caused last November's crisis,
2. Wind and solar are much more predictable than nuclear (this must be the new scam dreamt up by RenewablesUK).
3. You can manage the grid to get so much more ot of wind and solar (he didn't how).
4. There is no need for dispatchable power if we carefully manage our grids.
5. There are no real concerns about any imminent power crisis in the UK. Steve Holliday of NG has never raised this as a concern (well he wouldn't, would he: he's got no responsibility for security of supply, and all he's interested in is maximising NG's profits. To which end, building lots of new transmission to connect the new wind farm on Rockall is just the job). All the concerns about supply are really just media hysteria.

There's a handy autobiography of this great thinker:
"What did you study at the University and why?

I’d done Physics, Chemistry and Biology at A-level - a great choice if you wanted to become a doctor, but unfortunately I was never really attracted to Medicine. Instead I decided to do Biochemistry, but after a year of studying at what was at the time one of the country’s leading departments, I realised that I wasn’t really cut out to be a scientist. I went back to my local authority and argued that I wanted to change courses and have my grant extended. They agreed and instead I ended up with a degree in Philosophy at Liverpool."

So now he's trying a career in energy system design, it seems. I do hope he quickly finds out that he's not really cut out to be in that profession.

Feb 16, 2016 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Capell: I listened to the Burke on WATO at lunchtime (hasn't he been a busy boy today?). Not a peep from Martha about how wind and solar can be so predictable - to the point that we don't dispatchable. He really is a legend in his own mind - yet no more qualified to prattle on about power generation than the far more believable James Burke on Tomorrow's World.

I think you have a good point about teh greens trying a different meme: Predictability of wind (I guess if you eat so much quorn and beans, wind is entirely predictable).

Feb 16, 2016 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

While Torness is being given an extended lifespan, Longannet is being closed on 31 March 2016. Paul Younger, professor of energy engineering at the University of Glasgow has stated in an interview in the Scottish Edition of The Times that Scotland will then be subject to brownouts. The article is below but as it's behind a paywall don't know if you can read it:

Feb 18, 2016 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoyT

I've copied the text of the article I linked in my previous post re Longannet:

Scotland is just weeks away from having its lights dimmed because the country will not be producing enough electricity to meet demand, a leading energy expert warned last night.
Paul Younger, professor of energy engineering at the University of Glasgow, said that the closure of the Longannet coal-fired power station in Fife on March 31 would bring an end to Scotland producing enough electricity to meet its own demand.
Professor Younger said that he was delighted with yesterday’s decision to extend the life of the Torness nuclear power station, but warned that this was not going to be enough to head off looming electricity supply problems.
EDF Energy announced that the East Lothian power station, which provides about a quarter of Scotland’s electricity, would stay open until 2030, seven years longer than planned.
“This is an announcement I was hoping would be made because Scotland is facing a meltdown in its ability to produce all the electricity it wants on demand,” the professor said.
He warned that the imminent closure of Longannet, which supplies about 40 per cent of Scotland’s peak demand, would provide a more immediate risk to electricity supplies.
“When we lose Longannet at the end of next month, we are going to start to see problems with voltage control — I am confident of that.
“It’s what we call ‘brownout’ rather than ‘blackout’ in the first instance but, the fact of the matter is that from the start of April this year, Scotland is able to produce only 60 per cent of the peak demand for electricity on demand. So there will be times when we are fortunate and the wind will be blowing at just the right second, but our luck won’t always be in, so for the rest of those peak times of low availability of wind and hydro we are going to have to import from England — and the bad news is, the connectors from England aren’t big enough to meet Scottish peak demand, so you can do the sums yourself.”
So-called brownouts happen when voltage dips. The electricity supply is not cut but it is less effective. Lights dim, rather than go out, electric motors run slower and it takes longer to boil kettles and use other appliances.
According to Professor Younger, the only way to ensure peak demand is met consistently is to build new base-load capacity, which means new gas-fired stations linked to carbon capture and storage systems to reduce emissions.
He said that the Scottish government should have been pursuing this option but there did not seem to be the political will to do anything: “Any source of energy that provides security is disfavoured now.”
Professor Younger said: “We have now got a stay of execution until the year when Scotland will have zero per cent of its ability to meet peak demand. We did think that would be about 2025 but the Torness announcement means we will not get to zero until about 2030. But do I trust the powers that be not to squander that extra period of time when we could have been getting low-carbon base load in place? No, I don’t.”
He added: “This just delays the day. Scotland’s going to have serious problems meeting its carbon targets and keeping its lights on.”
A Scottish government spokesman said that a mix of energy sources was needed and blamed the UK government for the closure of Longannet.
He said: “As Professor Younger’s point illustrates, policy decisions made by the UK government, which controls the vast majority of powers relating to energy, are damaging Scotland’s energy sector. Longannet power station has the potential to provide reliable power to the end of the decade as we transition to lower carbon energy, but it will close prematurely next month due to an unfair transmission charging regime which penalises Scottish generation.”

Feb 19, 2016 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoyT

never mind joy, we will have the far smaller peterhead station making up the difference ,without the much vaunted carbon capture technology that people now seem to be quietly accepting will never work with established technology.

in case anyone would like a clue as to what next winter will be like, just have a look at rapidly plummeting surface temps in the north east atlantic. at one point last summer the north sea was 6 c cooler than at the same point the previous year and topped out 3 c lower at peak.

as usual our politicians and bureaucrats pick the most opportune moment to make stupid decisions .i suppose we can always burn wind turbines and solar panels next winter.

Feb 19, 2016 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterbit chilly

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