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Sat Aug 24, 2019, 11:18 AM

National Grid electricity blackout report points to failure at wind farm

I am on the mailing list of Carbon Brief Daily, a British Web Site on the subject of climate change, which gives me regular reports of the news related to on climate change.

I find generally that the news is something rare in discussions of climate change, balanced and informed. When I refer to "balance," I refer to reporting the downsides to some of the "magical thinking" associated with addressing this on going and accelerating disaster, specifically, wind power, which I oppose, mostly because it's proved useless and is helping to accelerate, rather than stop, climate change.

(One should be aware of the biases of writers.)

The following comes from one of those emails, and is repeated in its entirety. The original article from the Financial Times, is behind a firewall but the link is live for anyone who can access it:


National Grid electricity blackout report points to failure at wind farm

David Sheppard and Nathalie Thomas, Financial Times

Several publications report on the National Grid’s preliminary investigation into the blackout that struck in England and Wales last week. The report “has raised the possibility that [the blackout] was caused by the world’s largest offshore wind farm accidentally going offline”, the Financial Times says. The provisional findings, submitted on Friday, say that the Hornsea offshore wind farm may have tripped offline seconds before a smaller gas-fired station also went out. The results “suggest the blackout may have been avoided if not for an error at the wind farm”, the FT says. “Investigators now suspect the problems on the grid started when lightning hit part of the network near Cambridge,” the FT says. The lightning strike “coincided with the almost instantaneous total loss of supply from the Hornsea wind farm”, the FT says. “This detail is significant because it was previously believed the loss of power took approximately 60 seconds. The instant shutdown suggests the safety systems at Hornsea could have taken the plant offline accidentally.” National Grid described these reports as “speculation” and said it “it will not comment until Ofgem has had time to look over its report”, Press Association says. The Sunday Telegraph carries the comments of Colin Gibson, a former power network director for National Grid, who has called on ministers to impose limits on new wind and solar farms in light of the news. Gibson cites analysis co-written with Dr Capell Aris, a contributor to the climate sceptic lobby-group Global Warming Policy Foundation. A story in the Daily Telegraph reports that UK taxpayers paid £173m in “constraint payments” to windfarms during the last financial year. Such payments are a tool used by National Grid to balance supply and demand on the system, the Daily Telegraph says. The Mail on Sunday also reports the National Grid’s preliminary findings, with the online headline reading: “Renewable energy is a blackout risk, warns National Grid after chaos during biggest outage in a decade.” Elsewhere, Press Association reports that the demolition of a coal plant in Oxfordshire on Sunday caused a power cut affecting around 40,000 people, and a story in the Times – trailed on the front page – reports that the “National Grid is routinely restricting the use of its own power cables from the Continent because of the risk of blackouts if they failed”.

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