When The Wind Blows - A View From My Chair

  • retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 92
    Hello folks,

    Welcome to another of Retrotecchie's Ramblings. This one is a bit of a follow up to the recent COP28 goings-on and focusses on renewables. Specifically, the transition away from fossil fuels to renewables and how it's just not going to be a simple job, especially here in the UK.

    I read an article on the BBC News website this morning which seriously shocked me on the one hand, but came as absolutely no surprise to me on the other.

    Wasted wind power will add £40 to the average UK household's electricity bill in 2023, according to a think tank.

    That figure could increase to £150 in 2026, Carbon Tracker has estimated. When it is very windy, the grid cannot handle the extra power generated. Wind farms are paid to switch off and gas-powered stations are paid to fire up. The cost is passed on to consumers.

    The government said major reforms will halve the time it takes to build energy networks to cope with extra wind power. Energy regulator Ofgem announced new rules in November, which it said would speed up grid connections.


    Most of the UK's offshore wind farms are in England - Dogger Bank off the coast of Yorkshire is the largest in the world. Meanwhile, around half of onshore wind farms are in Scotland but most electricity is used in south-east England. Carbon Tracker said the main problem in getting electricity to where it is needed is a bottleneck in transmission between Scotland and England.

    The practice of switching off wind farms and ramping up power stations is known as "wind curtailment" and the costs are passed on to consumers, it said. Carbon Tracker researches the impact of climate change on financial markets. It said since the start of 2023, wind curtailment payments cost £590m, adding £40 to the average consumer bill. It warned those costs were set to increase to add £180 per year to bills by 2030, due to wind farms being built faster than the power cabling needed to transmit the electricity.
    "The problem is, there are not enough cables. The logical solution would be to build more grid infrastructure," said Lorenzo Sani, analyst at Carbon Tracker.
    "It's not even that expensive," he added, compared with mounting wind curtailment costs.

    So there are plenty of renewable generation sources, huge amounts of potential electricity, but no means of getting it onto the grid. And what's more, we are effectively paying extra to switch it off and use gas generation instead!!! But the job of the National Grid is to get the power from A to B. To move power from where it is generated to where it is needed. And who finances the National Grid? The bill payers, through our standing charges.

    But where are our ever-increasing standing charges going? On covering the costs to the industry of failed suppliers. To the tune of around £82 and counting, per customer. To finance the total fiasco and money pit that is smart metering, costing us all £18 a year. And another hefty hike expected in April of around £16 so the rest of us can cover the costs incurred by bad debtors and delinquent customers.

    To me that last point is tantamount to my bank taking my hard saved money from my account to help cover someone else's overdraft!!

    The standing charge is intended to contribute towards the cost and operation of the energy supply infrastructure. Which would be better used to provide the infrastructure to build new grid connections and bring more of these renewables to customers at a lower cost, rather than finance industry bad debt and a failed smart metering scheme.

    So are renewables the answer to climate change? Yes. And they can provide far more energy than we actually need. But until the system is reformed so that our standing charge money is spent on a grid fit for purpose rather than paper over the cracks in the industry's financial situation, it won't be any time soon.

    Reducing planning time for connections from 14 years to 7 years? If we want to hit net zero by 2050, that needs to come down to months, not years. And that is where our standing charge money needs to be going.

    Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player. I DON'T work for or on behalf of EON.Next, but am willing to try and help if I can. Not on mains gas, mobile network or mains drainage. House heated almost entirely by baby dragons.
  • 4 Replies

  • Tommysgirl's Avatar
    Level 45

    You've made some brilliant observations and points. I completely agree with everything you've said. 👍
  • meldrewreborn's Avatar
    Level 91
    Perhaps wind farms should be made to pay for the interconnection needed before the farm becomes operative.

    We’re paying these charges already and they will grow as more wind generation becomes operational. Wind power is cheaper than gas generation so more wind will lower bills - but they don’t mention that.
    there are the NIMBYs who object to pylons over their property and there are allegedly ill health effects of living in close proximity to high voltage networks. Of course the excess power could be used locally to produce hydrogen or stored in batteries for use later - like when the wind doesn’t blow.
    so lots of issues and long term they will be solved.
    the charges allowable for compensating for bad debt is a partly a consequence of banning the forceable installation of pre-payment meters. Pre-payment doesn’t permit the build up of large debit balances and the clamour to ban the practice didn’t address how to make sure that customers do actually pay their bills. Suppliers now need to treat defaulters even more kindly by writing off much of the debt, which hardly encourages people to pay up promptly. It’s an example of the law of unintended consequences. Why not paying for mains energy is regarded as acceptable whereas shoplifting or not paying for road fuel are theft - well it’s beyond me.
    Current Eon Next customer, ex EDF, Zog and Symbio. Don't think dual fuel saves money and don't like smart meters. Chronologically Gifted. If I offend let me know by private message, but I’ll continue to express my opinions nonetheless.
  • retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 92
    Why not paying for mains energy is regarded as acceptable whereas shoplifting or not paying for road fuel are theft - well it’s beyond me.

    Technically, using electricity without having the means to pay for it is, in my opinion, rather dishonest and is essentially theft.

    Section 13 of the Theft Act 1968: A person who dishonestly uses without due authority, or dishonestly causes to be wasted or diverted, any electricity shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
  • Connor_EONNext's Avatar
    Community Team
    @retrotecchie some informative stuff here, definitely an interesting read 😀
    🌳Together we can work to achieve a more sustainable Future 🌳