Scottish Electricity Generation – The Black Start
Scotlands increasing reliance on renewable electricty generation places the Scottish grid at risk of “blackout” in the event of a prolonged period of calm conditions.
The risk is partially reduced by the output from the Peterhead gas power station (0.55GW) which is capable of sustaining the grid, but at a very basic level preventing Scotland’s two nuclear power stations from tripping, but its capacity is insufficient to maintain an adequate level of emergency power (3.00GW).
Emergency planning indicates that the projected shortfall in supply in the event of the threat of a “blackout” would be covered by the output from Torness (1.25GW) and HunterstoneB (1.15GW) Nuclear Power Stations……. But HunterstoneB is currently out of action due to safety concerns and the situation is unlikely to improve for some time.
In any event both power stations are scheduled to close by 2023 with result that responsibility for providing “blackout” back-up has transferred to England.
This situation would have been avoided had the coal fired Longannet Power Station been retained since its output (2.60GW) would have provided sufficient electricity, preventing a “blackout” under any circumstance.
But Westminster decides since powers previously devolved to Scotland were withdrawn by the “House of Lords” a few years back. The Sewell convention??
Ofgem, the energy regulator, reviewed the cost to coal fired power stations of pumping their power into the national grid.
For many years this cost was heavily biased towards encouraging electricity generation near where it was consumed, in cities, mainly English cities.
This meant that power generated near to London and along the English south coast attracted a generous subsidy from Ofgem.
But electricity generated in Scotland was subject to a heavy charge for the privilege of supplying electricity to the grid.
Longannet Power Station was subsequently refused an operating licence by the Westminster government and shut down forming part of its plans to switch to greener energy.
Westminster then introduced the rising carbon tax, the so-called “carbon price floor” charging power plants for burning fossil fuels.
The tax was intended initially to phase out the use of coal – the dirtiest fuel – in favour of more environmentally-friendly gas plants, and eventually restrict all fossil fuel plants in favour of green technologies such as wind farms and nuclear power.
But the entire levy was passed on to the consumer pushing up wholesale power prices, costing every household between £5-£10 each year, increasing to an estimated £32 a year by 2020.
And all revenue gathered from the “carbon Tax” is passed to the Treasury.
Goodness knows what happens to the finance after is anyone’s guess.
The Capacity market – Provision of “Blackout” Facilities
But the gross incompetance of the Westminster government was then revealed with the introduction of a policy totally at odds with “Going Green”.
The “Capacity Market”, was introduced to ensure there were enough reliable operating fossil fuel power plants to prevent grid “Blackout”.
So, dirty old coal power stations in England and Wales are now being paid subsidies to the tune of £650m a year to stay online for longer, including coal plants that were otherwise at risk of closure from the carbon tax.
But not Longannet which, had it been kept open, until other arrangements were in place would have provided full “blackout” protection for Scotland removing the need for support from England.
Method in their madness no doubt.
The full cost of the policy (£1bn) has also been levied on Scots customers’ bills, alongside the cost of the “carbon price floor” which was designed to encourage switching away from coal.
So Scottish consumers are forking out up to £32 annually for the “carbon tax” and £100m for the “capacity tax”.
The “carbon price floor” and the “capacity market” are working together ensuring the policy is neither green nor affordable.
It is now accepted that the additional costs of renewable power production are low and ever reducing since the generating equipment is already in place.
A research paper issued by Sheffield University, indicated that wind and solar power reduced the total cost of electricity by £1.55 billion in the UK in 2014.
The Committee on Climate Change recently estimated that by 2020 the cost per megawatt hour of electricity should be less than £10.
The agreed “strike Price” for nuclear generated electricity is £92.50 per megawatt hour, fixed for the early years of the contract.
The provider EDF has not yet installed a safe fully operational “super fast” nuclear plant anywhere.
The cost of building the much-delayed Flamanville prototype reactor in France has increased by €2bn, to €8bn.
Scotland supplys the National Grid with very cheap electricity generated from renewable energy sources.
Costs are absorbed into the overall cost of electricity production in the UK.
Electricty unit charges reflecting the inclusion of the greater cost of electricity production in England and Wales is then averaged across the UK.
Addition of the cost of the output of the yet to be built new Nuclear Power Plants in England will markedly increase the cost of electricity to Scots households.
But this unwelcome scenario would be avoided if Scotland was an independent country.
An independent Scotland would be guaranteed secure and cost effective energy without the need to be reliant on a supply from England.
This will be achieved through the North Sea Link (NSL) which is scheduled to be fully operational by 2021.
What is the North Sea Link (NSL)?
The UK and Norway are constructing a European Community financed electricity link between Kvilldal in Norway to Blyth in the UK.
The link will connect the electricity systems of the UK and Norway via high voltage subsea cables from .
Linking Nordic and the UK energy markets will bring a number of benefits, including:
- Providing opportunities for shared use of renewable energy – helping both countries to meet domestic and international renewable and climate change targets.
- Increasing the security of electricity supplies.
- Providing additional transmission capacity for electricity to be traded, supporting economic growth in Norway and the UK.
Passing through Norwegian and UK waters, North Sea Link will be operational in 2021 and will be the longest subsea interconnector in the world.