Britain’s Oldest Coal Plants Called On To Avoid Running Out Of Power As Cold Sets In
By Paul Homewood
h/t Gerry, England
The Telegraph has a story about how the National Grid has had to pay idling coal power plants to fire up this week:
Britain’s oldest coal-fired power plants prepared to fire up their hoppers for a price of almost £1,000 per megawatt-hour on Tuesday to avert a power shortfall as temperatures across the country plunge and wind power wanes.
The cold snap ignited the winter’s first warning that Britain would run out of electricity unless idling coal plants ramp up to help meet demand for power.
National Grid said on Monday evening that there was a 100pc probability that the lights would go out within 24 hours unless an extra 2GW of power capacity agreed to help meet demand.
The first negative supply forecast of the season spurred the operators of Britain’s oldest plants to offer their power at prices well above the prevailing market rates to fill the gap.
The Aberthaw coal plant in South Wales offered the energy system operator a price of £240 per megawatt hour to turn on its two power units.
Meanwhile, the Fiddlers Ferry plant warmed its coal-fired units in case its bid to produce power for a price of £995/MWh was accepted.
The market price for power during the peak demand hours of the day climbed to around £140/MWh as demand for electric heating climbed and wind power output fell to a fraction of its potential on a windy day.
Read more here.
It’s behind a paywall, so I’m not allowed to show it all.
However, it makes the point that the latest ECJ ruling to suspend capacity market payments could hamstring vital standby cover.
It was not particularly cold or windless on Tuesday when coal power peaked in the early evening at 5.7 GW.
Gas too was running effectively flat out at the time at 25 GW, along with the inter-connectors and biomass.
We still nominally have 13 GW of coal-fired capacity, but most of this is not viable without the capacity market payments, as plants are compelled to idle for most of the year.
Which raises the question, how many coal plants will shut down earlier than planned, and leave us short or power in future winters?