Monitoring UK Electricity Generation

I have been monitoring the UK power generation for about 5 years using Elexon 1 hour snapshots . On June 1st Elexon introduced their equivalent power monitoring system and stopped supporting the snapshot data interface that I have been using for the last 9 years. Therefore it makes no sense for me to continue my old version, so instead I will in future access their data directly However my system will still be able to monitor  the political efforts to”transition” to low carbon power sources (Wind & Solar) which is once again being hyped up as an election issue.  My latest analysis with the bold interface again demonstrates the underlying problems of relying on intermittent power sources (you can’t).

Power generation by fuel type up to January 2024

Winter 2023 suffered several wind deserts, while  demand has actually increased compared to a year ago. I suspect this is probably due to the rapid increase in electric car usage and perhaps also increased use of heat pumps. There is unfortunately no such thing as a free lunch !

The severe anti-correlation of gas generation to wind power to balance the grid is shown below. Even coal generation was needed a couple of times to help meet demand.

Comparison of Wind Power generation with Gas generation. You can see an almost perfect anti-correlation. Natural Gas is an essential fuel for the UK.

All main political parties pay lip service to the “Net Zero” energy agenda. Achieving net zero was even put into UK law by Ed Miliband with his Climate Change Act. The problem though is that achieving such a goal is currently impossible!  Furthermore this conclusion will not change even if we were to double current Wind and Solar generation. Engineers should determine energy policy – not politicians! The only proven way to cut carbon emissions to zero is to invest in more nuclear power like France, but no doubt the Green Party and others will oppose that too. So currently it also makes far more sense to continue extracting  our own North Sea Gas instead of importing liquified gas with a much larger carbon footprint !  As a result energy costs will continue to rise mainly to satisfy  short term political posturing, and there is not a hope in hell Net Zero can be reached based on renewables alone.

About Clive Best

PhD High Energy Physics Worked at CERN, Rutherford Lab, JET, JRC, OSVision
This entry was posted in Climate Change, Energy, nuclear, renewables, wind farms. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Monitoring UK Electricity Generation

  1. David Ramsay says:

    This is a good and straightforward presentation on the fundamental issue of the capacity required to back up wind as it fails in winter. The EV and Heat Pump expansion will blow the issue up escalating domestic costs for heating and killing off the elderly and poor. Yet here in Scotland we keep hearing of the necessity and how rosey the green future is while the SNP have demolished all coal power plant, instead of mothballing them for emergency use, and our nuclear is all but over. Scotland will show the path to failure when our last nuclear unit has a temporary shut down and gas suffers a cold day snap….. lights off over and out.

  2. rogercaiazza says:

    I concluded the same thing based on Northeast US data

    I believe it is the case everywhere. Ignoring nuclear while trying to reduce CO2 will not work.

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