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Blackouts Imminent.
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4088 Posts

Stock up on candles and gas camping stoves.

29 Replies
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4088 Posts

And

broadgage
973 Posts

Not certain about “imminent” but do suspect that the risk is greater than in previous years.

There are two different factors to consider. Firstly is the availability of natural gas from which a significant proportion of our electricity is generated. Natural gas is currently hugely expensive, but I see no near term physical shortage. Imports continue though at a high price. UK natural gas storage is generally accepted as being inadequate, but such as it is, is well filled.

The other factor is not related to gas supplies but to actual generating capacity, and import capacity.

Coal burning capacity is much reduced.

Nuclear, somewhat reduced, with more closures expected and declining reliability from the rest.

CCGT plant, about 27 GW AFAIK.

Wind, has reached 13 GW, but only 1 or 2 GW can be counted with reasonable reliability in winter.

Hydro electric and pumped storage, limited but still helps a bit.

Solar, nil in the winter evening peak, but day time production helps indirectly by saving the pumped storage for later.

Imports are as much as 5 GW , but not to be unduly relied on due to breakdowns, shortages in the exporting countries, and political fallings outs.

Battery storage is the new factor, about 0.5 GW AFAIK, not any help for baseload but very helpful for the high peak, or in case of sudden breakdowns.

In short we will probably muddle through as we usually do, but margins look tighter than desireable.

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4088 Posts

Did anyone see this t.v. docu-film-drama when it first came out?

broadgage
973 Posts

I have candles, a large UPS, a multi fuel stove, and a portable gas cooker. I will be fine, but “no man is an island” and I worry about the effects on wider society in the event of either widespread blackouts or substantial price increases.

I would urge all members to ascertain what load group they are in. Write it on the wall near the electricity meter.

If possible, also ascertain the load group of major customers, suppliers, and of local pubs, shops and restaurant that you patronise.

Your load group will normally be the same as that of your neighbours, but someone has to be on the boundary. 

broadgage
973 Posts

Zoomup: 
 

Did anyone see this t.v. docu-film-drama when it first came out?

Yes, and indeed I was very indirectly involved in it. Not directly involved in production or filming but was shown an advance draft copy of the script/plot and suggested various minor corrections to technical errors. Things like the difference between amps and volts, and how many watts make a megawatt, and that very little UK grid electricity was produced from oil.

broadgage
973 Posts

And before this gets banished to the nether-world, might I suggest that all working electricians should remind relevant customers of the importance of ensuring that battery emergency lighting, standby generators, UPS systems and the like are in good working order.

And in case you need to perform essential work DURING a power cut, make certain that you have decent torches, battery lanterns, and head torches to hand with plenty of spare batteries.

Make certain that your home and work place are equipped with emergency lighting so that you may easily locate tools and equipment without delay or falling down the stairs in the dark.

Chris Pearson
3186 Posts

During the industrial unrest in the 1970s, we coped with candles, Campingaz lamps and stoves, albeit for limited periods and with notice. Our neighbours who had gas cookers had an advantage.

I admit that we have no resilience with batteries, but they wouldn't last long. Instead, we can use our open fires. Not very eco-friendly, but they have stood the test of time.

Alan Capon
510 Posts

As usual, absolute rubbish from the British Press. One bonus is it won’t lead to people hoarding electricity, unlike the self-induced UK petrol shortage. 

Regards,

Alan. 

broadgage
973 Posts

My UPS will run for at least 24 hours with careful use. A few days if turned on only when needed.

Chris Pearson
3186 Posts

They are banging on about it on the Beeb just now. As if the petrol crisis meant nothing, but at least consumers cannot hoard leccy.

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4088 Posts

Chris Pearson: 
 

They are banging on about it on the Beeb just now. As if the petrol crisis meant nothing, but at least consumers cannot hoard leccy.

Some sources are blaming the fuel shortages on the conversion from E5 to E10. But how does that affect diesel I ask?

Z.

broadgage
973 Posts

The change in the formulation of petrol is a red herring, there was and is plenty of petrol at refineries and bulk storage depots. The problem is a shortage of drivers to deliver the product  to filling stations.

broadgage
973 Posts

Chris Pearson: 
 

During the industrial unrest in the 1970s, we coped with candles, Campingaz lamps and stoves, albeit for limited periods and with notice. Our neighbours who had gas cookers had an advantage.

I admit that we have no resilience with batteries, but they wouldn't last long. Instead, we can use our open fires. Not very eco-friendly, but they have stood the test of time.

Life was simpler back then. 

Any recurrence of planned power cuts would be on a similar rota to that used in the 1970s, pre announced and for only 3 hours at a time.

Any sudden and unexpected shortfall in generating capacity would result in large areas being blacked out WITHOUT WARNING as happened in August 2019.

A modern problem is that a lot of consumers simply dont understand that the power is turned off centrally to significant areas WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS.

I have met many persons who seem to believe that each appliance is remotely controlled in some way !

“They would have to leave the heater on in the babies room”

“they would not be allowed to turn off lights on stairs”

“they should leave the cooker on until I have finished dinner”

And my favorite “I tried every light, and not even one worked”

mapj1
4317 Posts

What is really needed is frequency dependent load shedding, so that the light on the stairs hangs on to about 45Hz, but all the others self disconnect at  49¾. 😉

Instead where things are remote controlled, we have have a tendency to install  internet enabled 4g ready everything that cocks its toes the moment the local cell phone base station loses power.

It is not clear to me why turning the heating up or down in the living room while you are actually there benefits from the involvement of national infrastructure and a server abroad somewhere maintained by the company that sells the thermostats.

Mike

 

broadgage
973 Posts

In theory, very short term adjustments to the loading of electric heating help with grid control and the ability to manage short term failures of generating plant or import capacity.

Suppose that say 1 Gw of generating or import capacity is suddenly lost. The obvious reaction to this would to instruct OCGT plant to run, this takes a couple of minutes to start. Being able to drop the national load by a few hundred Mw for those two minutes would be very helpful.

A million electric heaters turned off for two minutes would do it. As would a few hundred thousand EV chargers that were paused for a couple of minutes.

broadgage
973 Posts

BTW, a neighbour was shocked to discover that they are in load group N.

Oh the ignominy of being “put in” such a lowly load group ! which they think is associated with reduced social status, reduction in the value of their house, and other problems.

They are uncertain if the estate agent is liable for not warning them of this lowly load group, or if some bad person latter downgraded them. 

They were not convinced by my statement that no load group is better than any other, and that no provision exists to upgrade.

According to https://www2.theiet.org/forums/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=205&threadid=103165 you can find your load group on your electricity bill. Other than my MPAN number and a statement that our Electricity Distributor is Scottish Power, I am in the dark on this one…

Clive

 

broadgage
973 Posts

Your load group SHOULD be on your bill.

A single capital letter, enclosed within a square. Placed just below the address such that the load group is NOT visible through the address window of the envelope.

The only letter is a box is the “S” within the MPAN number boxes.  I looking on line that is always as "S".

Our Bills have been on-line, both from Gulf, but following their renaming, from HUB; but still no separate letter in a box.  Following HUB's demise we are now with E.ON, but have yet to receive a Bill.

I will keep a look-out when it arrives.

Clive 

 

mapj1
4317 Posts

Once you know your load group, then by knowing the level of emergency from level 1, short cuts once a day, to level 18,  24hr  rolling blackout and everything in between, you will be able to refer to the handy charts in the back 18 pages  of the attached,

 34686-ELECTRICITY SUPPLY EMERGENCY CODE 2014.pdf

,  and see when the power will be on (white) or off (black), perhaps handy to schedule that main switch replacement that has been put off because of getting the main fuse pulled.  … joking aside,   do not do that … it may come back on early.

Perhaps your load ‘N’ neighbour is now reassured that anyone in A or B gets the same hours in a week.

 

Note that the DNOs have to be ready to do this within 48hrs of 1st  notice, and once the plan is running, to be able to change it up or down a severity level in less than 12.

Mike.

 

broadgage
973 Posts

What needs to be stressed when talking about this to non technical people, is that whole areas are cut off, remotely.     ALL customers in the area will be cut off. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Not even for the elderly, the disabled, the vulnerable, those with special needs, food shops, old folks homes, traffic lights, lifts in tower blocks, etc.

This point is not generally understood.

Mumsnet will have a field day ! “I told them that I have four babies, and they STILL cut me off”

“Even the shop selling baby food was cut off”

mapj1
4317 Posts

well yes - but then a moment of thought about how far back up the distribution network the switch is thrown, shows it has to be like that.

Of course once we have moved all the land line phones to fibre, and the batteries at the local base-station have run flat (not even long enough for one 3 hour black out in many cases ) then mumsnet will fall silent, as will your phone.

Ofcomm are not really  joined up  their guidance on what a phone company should provide is not adequate if a 3 hours power cut is the minimum unit.

"A1.11The obligations in GCA3 are technology neutral and therefore we do not intend to prescribe what type of solution providers should employ for the purposes of providing access to emergency organisations in the event of a power cut at the customer’s premises. 

A minimum of one hour

A1.12

We consider that a solution would in most cases meet Principle 1 if it offered the customer the ability to access emergency organisations on the emergency call numbers of 112 and 999 fora minimum of one hour following a power cut. Providers must also ensure equivalent access to emergency organisations for those customers that use textphones/text relay. These customers cannot dial 999 or 112 directly but use access codes, typically 18000. 

 

 So  for the 2nd two hours of a minimum  3 hour break most folk may well be without telephone access to 999 /112 let alone the internet or landline contacts to anyone else, and the telcos are satisfying their obligations to Ofcom…

Mike

During the 1970s power cuts I was a MoD Civil Servant at RAF Sealand. It was decided (by the MoD?) that it would be incorrect for us to work during the times when neighbouring properties were shut off, so since education was an allowed usage of electricity, we ended up receiving education. Some of this was rather cloak and dagger infiltration into the RAF by enemy agents. (I better not say any more on that subject, otherwise I would………………………………)

In the same era, a friend of mine (now a retired Police Officer) found that at home his electricity was never shut off. He found out later that he was on the same feed as the local water works…

Clive

 

broadgage
973 Posts

mapj1: 
 

well yes - but then a moment of thought about how far back up the distribution network the switch is thrown, shows it has to be like that.

Of course once we have moved all the land line phones to fibre, and the batteries at the local base-station have run flat (not even long enough for one 3 hour black out in many cases ) then mumsnet will fall silent, as will your phone.

Ofcomm are not really  joined up  their guidance on what a phone company should provide is not adequate if a 3 hours power cut is the minimum unit.

"A1.11The obligations in GCA3 are technology neutral and therefore we do not intend to prescribe what type of solution providers should employ for the purposes of providing access to emergency organisations in the event of a power cut at the customer’s premises. 

A minimum of one hour

A1.12

We consider that a solution would in most cases meet Principle 1 if it offered the customer the ability to access emergency organisations on the emergency call numbers of 112 and 999 fora minimum of one hour following a power cut. Providers must also ensure equivalent access to emergency organisations for those customers that use textphones/text relay. These customers cannot dial 999 or 112 directly but use access codes, typically 18000. 

 

 So  for the 2nd two hours of a minimum  3 hour break most folk may well be without telephone access to 999 /112 let alone the internet or landline contacts to anyone else, and the telcos are satisfying their obligations to Ofcom…

Mike

It is not a minimum of one hours back up for “most folk” but only for those judged to be at risk.

Nothing for most of us.

mapj1
4317 Posts

Even if you or I have a UPS of more than one hour - that is all the other end may stay up for - I suggest that very few folk realise, and would probably be quite surprised to find out.

Mike.

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