Peak power delivery to the UK

These graphs monitor the long term contribution from different fuels to the daily peak energy needs of the UK. The monitoring started in mid August 2013. There are  huge subsidies being paid by consumers to  wind power companies and landowners, while simultaneously government policy  penalizes  coal through  a carbon floor tax pushing up energy costs. Despite all this the lights would simply go out tomorrow without coal. All ~5000 UK  wind turbines produced less energy in August 2013 than  just the imported French nuclear power  – but at 4 times the cost !


  1. Pump is  hydro storage delivered during  the day. This is greater than direct UK hydro power.
  2. France is power supplied  to the UK up to a maximum 2 GW  paid for  at market rates. It is all nuclear generated.
  3. Dutch is power supplied from Holland up to a maximum 1 GW
  4. Biomass and Solar power are negligible.

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About Clive Best

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

4 Responses to Peak power delivery to the UK

  1. Ken Gregory says:

    4500 wind turbines provided 3.4% of peak demand at a cost 4 times the cost of importing French nuclear power. The cost of the French power is simply what they change for the power. How did you calculate the cost of the wind power? Does this include the incremental cost of the back-up power?

    A study by Gordon Hughes shows that the incremental cost of meeting the UKs renewable energy targets by 2020 with wind power (with the required back-up facilities) is 9.2 times as expensive as providing the power with natural gas alone.

    We know that the variability of wind requires back-up facilities which must rapidly vary the power output to compensate for the fluctuating wind power, which greatly reduces the conventional power efficiency. A Combined Cycle Gas Turbine plant can have a thermal efficiency of up to 60% if run continuously, but a back-up power plant that must rapidly vary its power output would have a much lower efficiency, about 35%

    • Clive Best says:

      Offshore wind receives a guaranteed price per MWh of energy 3 times the market rate for electricity. On-shore wind receives slightly more than twice the market rate per MWh. I have noticed that usually peak power from wind occurs at night when the power is not needed and often falls to zero by the morning when it is. Despite all this the providers get paid the same price – even if the energy is wasted.

      As you say the real problem is “collaborating” gas fired stations with wind power. Wind is randomly intermittent but demand insn’t. Wind has the annoying habit of falling to zero on the coldest days of the year at peak demand. This means that gas stations must be run as back up to wind and their efficiency falls as a result. Hence my estimate that Wind power costs us the consumer 4 times the market rate for nuclear or fossil fuel energy.

      There is a brilliant paper about this problem by Leo Smith – an electrical engineer see:
      He started monitoring the national grid data first and this led me to to investigate doing the same.

  2. Clive Best says:

    Are the new post updates working properly ?

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