Saturday, August 10, 2019

British power blackout NOT caused by over-reliance on renewables

I notice that some of the less reliable and trustworthy British media outlets (yes, Daily Mail, I'm looking at you) are blaming yesterday's hour-long power outage on Britain's increased reliance on renewable energy, and particularly on wind power.
However, the National Grid Electricity System Operator has issued a statement specifically denying that: "The events we saw yesterday really have nothing to do with changes in wind speed or the variability of wind". That's pretty clear.
The National Grid is blaming the blackout on the extremely rare event of two large power stations going out of commission, for unrelated reasons, within minutes of each other. One was a gas-fired power station, and the other was an offshore wind farm. And note that the wind farm did not stop generating because of too much, or too little, wind either - the turbines continued turning but the transmission link to the grid was disrupted for as yet unknown reasons. The grid system did operate to compensate for the power station losses, as it should, but it was not able to make up for the loss of two such large generators.
The Daily Mail, though, managed to find an "expert" willing to assert that the real problem was Britain's over-reliance on renewables, and the inherent inflexibility of generating sources like wind power.
The moral of the story is: be careful who you get the story from. Not everyone tells you the whole objective truth, at least not if they think they can sell more papers or online ad space by taking a particular political viewpoint and making the story fit that line of thought.

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