If you were going to buy an expensive sports car like a Lamborghini, you would first make sure it fitted in your garage. Especially as the garage has climate control to stop any rusting forming.
But having bought the car, you then discover after it has been delivered that it fails to fit into the garage.
That expensive car must either sit outside and devalue or be stored somewhere else, which then creates any additional unexpected cost.
Who is to blame?
Is it Lamborghini for making the car too big?
Is it the original house builder for failing to take into account a completely unknown factor like what will be stored in the garage?
Or is it the person making the buying discussion?
In this analogy
Lamborghini represent the renewable energy sector for solar PV and wind turbine installations
The house builder is the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) in charge of the grid
The discussion maker is the UK government
The fact is that the UK government has created green policies and then actively encouraged renewable technology to be constructed. At the same time, they have created financial benefits to reward those companies investing in such technology. This has been for the best interests of UK homes and businesses that can benefit from ‘green’ electricity.
The key word here is ‘benefit.’
So you would imagine that the decision makers in UK government would have taken into account the operational capacity of the grid and be aware of any limitations that ‘might’ affect how much of the generated green electricity reached the final customer.
That all makes sense and is logical. Due diligence is important right?
So why oh why has £1.5bn of green electricity been wasted in the UK?
By wasted, we are talking about the renewable energy technology having to be switched off because the grid was unable at certain times to accept additional loads. And of course some one has to pay compensation to the green generators for the loss of income, but who pays the bill?
Now, if you think this is a historic problem, think again as this is a current and ongoing problem as these figures explain.
In the last 2 years £806m of green electricity has been wasted equivalent to providing power to 800,000 homes*
In the last 10 years almost £650m has been wasted in Scotland
If that is bad enough, answer this question … who pays for this green electricity wastage?
The answer is the UK home owner.
Please remember the green electricity was for the ‘benefit’ of home owners. However, due to the grid being unable to accept the electricity at the point of generation, the generating sources had to be disconnected form the grid with the owners of the generating sources being compensated for their loss of income.
So ‘benefit’ that was intended, actually becomes a ‘financial cost’ to home owners .
This takes us nicely back to the Lamborghini analogy and the UK government should have planned ahead many years ago to ensure that the necessary upgrades were instigated to ensure that the grid was more than capable of handling increased loads.
So to date £1.5bn has been wasted, of which £806m was in the last 2 years.
What if upgrades to the grid to allow similar generated electricity to be exported fail to materialise?
Will this mean another £806m is wasted in the next two years?
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. However, having worked with grid since 2007 making over 33,000 grid connections and having solved many grid issues for my local authority clients, there is still an elephant in the room. I have spoken on many occasions to explain my concern over the grid’s ability to handle this new electrically driven world we are entering with the additional loads being imposed by the likes of electric vehicles (EV) and air source heat pumps (ASHP).
So let’s throw something else into the mix.
Can the grid actually cope with increased demand?
On 20th July 2022 a surge in demand for electricity left eastern parts of London short of power. The response was to persuade Belgium to crank up their electricity plants to send energy across the English Channel.
This resulted in a record high of £9,724.54 per megawatt/hour being paid - more than 5,000% higher than the typical price for 1 hour. A grid spokesman said that if Belgium had not helped out, the grid would have been forced to “undertake demand control and disconnect homes from electricity.”
So in summary we have a problem.
There is an increasing demand in electricity that must be supplied from an ageing grid that is presently unable to accept the total amount of generated green electricity. A receipt for disaster.
The big loser is the home owner who has to meet the compensation payments at a time when the cost of living crisis is already pushing up energy bills.
Maybe the government should have spent money on building a larger garage before buying the Lamborghini. Just saying.
* EnergyLiveNews 9th June 2022
** STV News 17th January 2020