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Stand by for more big, windfarm-driven 'leccy price rises

Think it's bad now? Just wait, says Grid

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Wait, we're just getting started

But we aren't done yet. Not only will wind power cost huge amounts, it will make non-renewable "thermal" electricity more expensive.

The increased contribution from wind will reduce the load factor of thermal plant, particularly the more expensive marginal plant. Additionally the variable nature of wind means that thermal plant will have to operate in an increasingly flexible manner.

There will be a consequential operating and maintenance cost.

An increase in starts of 26% is expected across the CCGT fleet, together with a 6% fall in load factor.

Again, the electricity consumer will pay for all this.

Another thing that we will all be required to pay for are new interconnector cables under the sea to the Continent, as wind and new gas will not cover the disappearance of coal and we will need to import more electricity. Unfortunately we will often want to do this just when everyone else is short of juice, as the wind often drops all across northern Europe and beyond.

It can also be expected that coincident high pressure weather patterns across Europe, leading to a widespread reduction in wind generation output, will occur and the market framework [this] makes it an imperative that price signals in both wholesale markets and cash-out arrangements emerge in GB that will ensure imports through interconnectors occur; particularly as extended cold periods often correlate with lower wind output.

Or in other words we will pay through the nose to get the juice when we need it: and again, the cost of this will go on the electricity bill.

It's often suggested by windpower advocates that it would be a good idea to store surplus energy rather than constrain it off the grid. The National Grid analysts agree in principle, but point out that the costs of storing electricity are huge and the inefficiencies large.

There are significant hurdles around the economics of the current potential technologies ... National Grid believes that large scale hydro such as pumped storage could provide the necessary system level flexibility and make a significant contribution to the security of supply. However it is difficult to identify how the economic investment would work within the current market framework.

Still, it seems to be an acknowledged reality that renewable power isn't going to be feasible for much more than 20 per cent of the UK supply unless storage of some sort comes into play. How to solve this?

There is considerable value in storage across the entire supply chain but perhaps insufficient for any discrete part. National Grid believes that suitable funding streams for using innovative storage technologies should be established so that they are developed and supported in the intervening years in order that all stakeholders can consider how such technologies could be applied making them viable in later years.

"Funding streams" are not going to come out of thin air: they will come, yet again, from the pockets of electricity consumers (or just possibly from the taxpayers, though this is unlikely. Either way, you pay).

It's often suggested that the planned national fleet of electric cars might act as a power store to help out when required. This is basically not going to happen any time soon, according to the Grid:

We do not consider vehicle to grid (V2G) services as economically viable in the near term due to additional costs that be incurred to make them export capable.

What might be of some use would be a bit of demand shifting: using 'leccy at a time when there's power to spare rather than just when you want it. It wouldn't really have much impact on a national scale, but it could mean needing a power station or two fewer to get through the early-evening demand peak. All that's needed is to install controls in everyone's domestic appliances that can turn them off and on in response to the Grid's requirements:

Importantly, in order to capture the potential of demand at a domestic level, a mandatory requirement to have the relevant equipment fitted to domestic appliances is needed. The cost of incorporating at manufacture is low, whereas the cost benefit of retro-fit is unlikely to be attractive to the end user.

So, summarising, electricity bills can be expected to soar radically upwards in the next ten years. Not only are there the effects of the escalating ROC requirement and Feed In Tariffs to consider - already quite bad enough - we can also expect to pay more to both wind and non-wind providers plus a load more for interconnectors and imports - and more on top in a bid to make storage viable somehow.

Dr John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation commented to the Telegraph: "The consumer burden entailed by the renewables policy is looking increasingly unsustainable.” ®

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