National Grid will need to pay for more batteries and gas engines that can compensate for sudden drops in electricity supplies to prevent further blackouts, according to experts. Aurora Energy Research, a consultancy, said that National Grid appeared to have had “insufficient flexible capacity” to cope with the sharp drop in supplies on Friday. The Little Barford gas plant and Hornsea offshore wind farm both disconnected from the grid, removing 1.4 gigawatts, or about 5 per cent of supplies, shortly before 5pm. This caused a significant drop in frequency below the minimum 49.5Hz level that National Grid is required to maintain to ensure stable supplies, resulting in power cuts affecting a million homes, some train networks and a hospital. National Grid, which is responsible for keeping the lights on, is investigating the causes of the blackouts. It is understood also to be examining lightning strikes that affected the grid near Little Barford. Aurora said that high wind generation on Friday had made the grid frequency more volatile, so “amplifying the effects of any plant trips”. This could be managed “if there is enough flexible capacity [such as] batteries” to rapidly make up the shortfall. Aurora said that significantly more flexible back-up power sources would be needed as more renewables were built.
Times 14th Aug 2019 read more »
No it wasn’t the wind turbines that caused the blackout but batteries likely to benefit from reaction In the aftermath of last Friday’s blackout the usual suspects are blaming wind turbines’, but that’s not what the electricity market nerds are saying. They are pointing to the fact that big power outages have happened before the age of large-scale renewable energy penetration and that stories of crisis at the National Grid are well overblown. I certainly remember the blackout of 2008 which was caused by the near simultaneous disconnection of Sizewell B (nuclear) and Longannet (coal), but then of course we did not see anything in the media about how it was all the fault of nuclear or coal-fired power plant. This time a large gas fired power plant tripped, followed a little later by a big offshore windfarm. Now there is talk of how the grid has become more unstable because of increasing renewable energy penetration (now around 35% of electricity on an annual basis) and how, depending on people’s interest a) we ought to stop this nonsense and get back to having real large power plant or b) we need more batteries and/or other stuff. In fact such an approach is decried by top electricity system management experts such as Nigel Cornwall. He tweeted in response to stories that the National Grid was beset with a splurge of ‘near misses’ and last-gasp efforts: “Near misses” and “last minute contracts” is the way the system – and all electricity systems – is designed to operate. (National Grid) has done a huge amount to modernise its balancing services, and I am struggling to understand whose agenda this is. Two large power stations failed at the evening peak, when the system was already calling for more output/demand turndown. This was almost an occurrence of Titanic probabilities. You can of course contract for a huge amount of extra reserve but at immense cost to consumers’
Dave Toke’s Blog 13th Aug 2019 read more »
Last week the National Grid suffered the shock failure of two power stations, leaving up to a million homes in the dark and bringing parts of the rail network to a halt. Reports suggest the network has suffered a number of “near misses” in recent years. This column, originally published in 2015, highlights the looming threat of blackout to the UK.
Telegraph 13th Aug 2019 read more »
The head of National Grid has called for the government to investigate why regional networks allowed power to be cut to critical infrastructure such as railways and hospitals, as part of its inquiry into last week’s blackout. In his first interview since Friday’s blackout cut power to 1m UK homes and businesses and caused widespread transport disruption, John Pettigrew defended National Grid’s performance, saying it had restored power within minutes to the electricity transmission system during the “rare” outage. Problems at the local network level caused the effects of the blackout to be more severe, he said. “My view is the broader investigation absolutely needs to look at the prioritisation of demand,” said Mr Pettigrew. “The network was back and in normal operation within seven minutes but the disruption was massive, so it’s absolutely critical we look at the prioritisation of demand.”
FT 13th Aug 2019 read more »
In the wake of a large power cut which affected large parts of south England on Friday (9 August), policymakers and power generators must prioritise investments in flexible energy systems. That is according to RenewableUK, which responded yesterday (12 August) to concerns around whether the outage was made more likely by the varying output of renewable energy arrays.
Edie 13th Aug 2019 read more »
Autonomous Energy Grids (AEG) is the name of a multifaceted project that the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created to envision the electricity grid of the future, where output from many decentralized energy sources is managed simultaneously to ensure a secure and consistent energy supply. The concept is focused on smart technology and autonomous communication, based on a series of interconnected microgrids, which communicate with each other and make use of algorithms to continually find the best operating condition in response to constantly shifting energy demand, availability and pricing. “The future grid will be much more distributed too complex to control with today’s techniques and technologies,” said Benjamin Kroposki, director of NREL’s Power Systems Engineering Center. “We need a path to get there—to reach the potential of all these new technologies integrating into the power system.”
PV Magazine 13th Aug 2019 read more »