Solar power and the capacity crunch

Posted on by melanie

Going off-grid was once the sign of a truly ‘deep green’ approach to life. But with the National Grid facing a capacity crunch this winter, changes in technology and a new UK Solar Strategy just published, now may be the right time to rethink our attitudes to solar power. Melanie Thompson investigates …

Are you ready for the capacity crunch? We may not need to put candles on our weekly shopping lists this winter (except for the decorative Christmas variety), but it would be no surprise to read ‘avoiding power shortages’ on the National Grid’s office Secret Santa wish-list.

In early September the Grid reported that it is stepping up actions to ensure the electricity continues to flow during peak periods this winter, despite unexpected glitches in the national power-generation system. Faced with emergency shut-downs at two nuclear power stations (caused by technical problems) and reductions in output at conventional generators (caused by two large fires at Ironbridge and Ferrybridge and production issues in Barking), the National Grid implemented a plan to purchase additional capacity from other sources. This Supplemental Balancing Reserve plan ought not to have been needed until 2015/16 and in any case was always intended to be a short-term measure because capacity was expected to rise by 2018/19.

Whether or not the predicted nation-wide dimming of lights comes to pass this winter, the possibility casts a timely ray on the importance of a strong energy supply strategy and raises the question of why – amid the hot air blowing around on fracking, offshore gas/oil and wind power – the huge potential for solar energy has dropped down the power supply agenda (again).

As it turns out, now may be exactly the right time to take the leap out of the dark. … Read the whole article on the NBS Sustainability website.

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