NATIONAL Grid (NG), the private system operator of our high voltage electricity grid publicly issued two documents to the UK generating companies in June entitled System Needs and Product Strategy and Future Balancing Service. Drafted by engineers for engineers they clearly set out the very major problems that the grid is facing between now and 2022. They are an erudite summary of chaos.

It appears more than optimistic that post-consultation results are targeted by the end of September.

NG is clear that most of its rescue proposals are not yet significantly researched or ready for deployment. It looks unlikely, given that some development will be iterative, that the necessary improvements can be established by its target of January 2019 with deployment by 2022.

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The NG report worryingly talks of “aspiration” “ambition” and “commitment” thereby highlighting the complete absence of a functioning, independent electricity modelling and forward-planning authority in the UK.

When John Kennedy set the aspirational target of manned flight to the Moon the commitment was met and supported by planned, structured, research and finance in order to achieve it. Currently in the UK we can call on neither.

NG does, however, identify that there is no longer an elephant in the renewables room. There is now a herd.

Major concerns comprise;

Diminishing inertia (rotational energy) in the network following retirement of large power stations causing lack of control of the Rate of Change of Frequency as supply/demand balance becomes increasingly susceptible to renewables surges or collapse.

Wider frequency response control difficulties because “the grid now needs response that acts faster than we have today” which “need to be designed and implemented”.

Avoidance of voltage collapse as we progressively reduce the capability to locally control wattless power which may lead to countrywide construction of large-scale synchronous compensators to offset .

The threat to the UK’s ability to re-start areas of the country after a major fault (Black Start) as big power stations close. (The industry has yet to demonstrate that this is solvable.)

Reduction in reserve power now “needed to meet frequency response so this capacity is lost to reserve ... to cover unexpected losses” , for example wind turbine output collapse and upward reserve power needs of 4GW today rising to 10GW by 2021/22 ( equivalent to 10 Tornesses.) Additionally, the present interconnector trading arrangements with Europe change in Q3 2018 from three hours ahead to just one hour, “introducing increased uncertainty in our generation and demand”.

By 2021/2 , the grid is forecast to incur a Rate of Change of Frequency control risk that will be "too high” over 25per cent of the year requiring it to reduce losses and/or dump wind and start up synchronous generation. Today that figure is around two per cent.

NG strategy is to establish a “Balancing Services Market” with the generating companies on a “you build and we’ll contract for the services” approach.

So who will ultimately pay for this?

Our politicians should consider inviting NG to give them a brief, and sobering, talk through reality.

DB Watson,


Langdales Avenue, Cumbernauld.

I'M afraid electric car manufactures have gone down the wrong road, although I acknowledge present day technology has forced that on them (Letters, August 23 & 30). When I was growing up our house had no electricity, only mains gas for heating and lighting, but we did have a wireless – sorry, radio. Every Saturday morning my job would be to take the "accumulator" – a lead/acid wet cell battery - to the local garage to be charged. I would bring back the accumulator which I had left the previous Saturday, now fully charged. This would last a week.

Until such a system can be evolved for cars I'm afraid electric cars will only remain feasible for running around suburban areas.

George Smith,

21 Birny Hill Court, Clydebank.