The coming UK power shortage

Londo

LE
Look at Hurricane Katrina ,just how long did it take the Federal government to get their act together.

Living in any large town,city , if it does happen how would it turn out.
It just doesn't bare thinking about . Just glad I am now out in the sticks and away from London .
 

REMEwalt

Old-Salt
That decision to get rid of independent fuel storage for emergency services is a classic example of the type of multiple small uncoordinated decisions that lead to societal and economic risk multiplying in all sorts of unforeseen ways.

The truth is that the UK has never had a full national blackout and over the last seven decades we have gradually built an enormously interconnected economy with extreme reliance on continuous electrical energy and digital communication. Nobody has ever tried switching all that off for a week to see to see what would happen and nobody really knows how long it would take to get it all started again.
Black start is a very real issue. Of course mainland UK is actually three different transmission networks with one system operator (NG) co-ordinating. SPEN either has, or will shortly, lost all its synchronous generation plants and there has been much debate about how you would bring the system back on line after a failure. For England, from memory, we get a jump start from France.

SSE built the Beuly-Denny line (400kV?)to absorb all the wind generation and ship it south to the central belt where the demand is.
I just hope National Grid control centre has some kind of very secure resilient means of communicating with the power station operating staff and other key energy workers throughout the system because restarting a power grid while keeping gas pressure stable enough so the CCGT can ramp up is very complex.
It's a legal requirement to have a working phone in the power station control room. No phone = shutdown. I assume it still exists but there used to be a dedicated, independent, phone system that was used between NG and the generators.
 
If you haven't seen it, watch Blackout. It's a docudrama made in 2013 about the impact on Britain of the National Grid going down for a few days. If you've ever done any emergency planning for CNI, it's scarily accurate, especially in how quickly civil society breaks down. (There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy - Alfred Henry Lewis - 1906). I saw a microcosm of this during the Tewkesbury flooding of 2007, when the military was bought in to distribute bottled water.

This is a link to it on Youtube, it might be available in better quality elsewhere - I think I saw it on Netflix.



Read a book called 'One Minute After'. It is about an EMP attack on the USA, the book was researched to death before writing and the author was asked to present his findings to senior politicos. It walks quite nicely through the stages of societal collapse as viewed through the eyes and experiences of one family in a small town.

Bottom line: Make sure you have food, a source of clean water and some sharp pointy things with a decent reach. Ideally get to know someone in Cornwall, or the lake District, have an escape route to get there and stash some stuff at their place. A cop I knew who lived in inner city Philadelphia reckoned the only way he and his tribe would get out was on mountain bikes along the railway lines so he planned appropriately.
 
Black start is a very real issue. Of course mainland UK is actually three different transmission networks with one system operator (NG) co-ordinating. SPEN either has, or will shortly, lost all its synchronous generation plants and there has been much debate about how you would bring the system back on line after a failure. For England, from memory, we get a jump start from France.

SSE built the Beuly-Denny line (400kV?)to absorb all the wind generation and ship it south to the central belt where the demand is.

It's a legal requirement to have a working phone in the power station control room. No phone = shutdown. I assume it still exists but there used to be a dedicated, independent, phone system that was used between NG and the generators.

There used to be a whole network back in the day. I was on the county emergency team as a voluntold, after passing the initial induction phase our numbers were entered onto the system. Should an emergency have happened all the phones would be disconnected apart from organisations and individuals entered into their directory/database. In the case of an event the world would try phoning their loved ones and the whole network would just have frozen up. Easy solution, just disconnect all the civvys at the time.
 
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Look at Hurricane Katrina ,just how long did it take the Federal government to get their act together.

Living in any large town,city in the UK , if it does happen how would it turn out?

Than goodness the UK is not like the USA with so many weapons.

I have spoken to people here in Dallas who moved here from New Orleans and have never gone back. Doctors and nurses walked out of hospitals and care homes to get home to their families, police buggered off to their families and the animals went on the prowl. The Feds sent in a PMC, fully tooled up to kickstart law and order, that caused some issues. In general it was about a week though before anything vaguely positive started to happen. There is much that is not mentioned and spoken about that time by the people who went through it.
 

Londo

LE
Read a book called 'One Minute After'. It is about an EMP attack on the USA, the book was researched to death before writing and the author was asked to present his findings to senior politicos. It walks quite nicely through the stages of societal collapse as viewed through the eyes and experiences of one family in a small town.

Bottom line: Make sure you have food, a source of clean water and some sharp pointy things with a decent reach. Ideally get to know someone in Cornwall, or the lake District, have an escape route to get there and stash some stuff at their place. A cop I knew who lived in inner city Philadelphia reckoned the only way he and his tribe would get out was on mountain bikes along the railway lines so he planned appropriately.
I read that also a couple of years back. It was free online somewhere . Interesting and quite horrific .
 

REMEwalt

Old-Salt
There used to be a whole network back in the day. I was on the county emergency team as a voluntold, after passing the initial induction phase our numbers were entered onto the system. Should an emergency have happened all the phones would be disconnected apart from organisations and individuals entered into their directory/database. In the case of an event the world would try phoning their loved ones and the whole network would just have frozen up. Easy solution, just disconnect all the civvys at the time.

Was that GTPS? It was decommissioned a few years ago.

There is a similar mechanism in the UK mobile phone network. It used to be called ACCOLC, now MTPAS but substantially the same. (ACCOLC = Access Overload Control, MTPAS = Mobile Telecom Privileged Access Scheme.) SIM cards are assigned a priority (1-15) and, when invoked, lower numbers are barred from the network, other than calls to emergency numbers.

MTPAS came in after my time in utilities but ‘Orange light’ services were eligible for ACCOLC, the problem was that it was SIM based, and the number of SIMs was restricted, so you had to choose very carefully who you gave it to.

I don’t think either has been invoked much*, events that I can think of are the Aintree evacuation in 1997 (where it was done in error) and the 7/7 bombings. It’s invoked by Gold Command and is localised rather than national.

I don’t know if MTPAS applies to 5G networks because, I believe, prioritisation and preemption are allowed on those networks. Previous mobile standards were deployed as ‘equal access’ in the UK.

*As an aside, in 2012 I attended a jubilee event at RAF Cosford that was attended by The Queen and the DoE. Five minutes before the arrival of her helicopter all mobile phones lost signal. Signal was restored five minutes after their departure. The only network that worked throughout was Airwave, and that’s TETRA anyway.
 

TractorStats

War Hero
Black start is a very real issue. Of course mainland UK is actually three different transmission networks with one system operator (NG) co-ordinating. SPEN either has, or will shortly, lost all its synchronous generation plants and there has been much debate about how you would bring the system back on line after a failure. For England, from memory, we get a jump start from France.

SSE built the Beuly-Denny line (400kV?)to absorb all the wind generation and ship it south to the central belt where the demand is.

It's a legal requirement to have a working phone in the power station control room. No phone = shutdown. I assume it still exists but there used to be a dedicated, independent, phone system that was used between NG and the generators.
On black start the lack of fossil fuel plant in certain parts of the grid is another one of those unforeseen vulnerabilities for sure. I assume SPEN will get a jump start from England or SSEN?

I worked with the electric industry for a long time at the economic end not screwdriver end but always liked talking to the power engineers who could tell me how it really worked. One thing they regularly hinted was that if it all goes wrong they will always rely on Drax to get it started again. Not something they can do with wind turbines, solar or even nukes.

I assume there is some kind of dedicated communication phone system between National Grid and power stations that doesn't rely on mobile phones or VOIP. An old copper line with analogue signal and its own battery back up power source for example. If it does all blackout I am quite sure that an engineer on the National Grid control desk will need to phone the engineer at a few of the key fossil fuel power stations to coordinate actions. It wont all just work with telemetry that is for sure.
 
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TractorStats

War Hero
It just doesn't bare thinking about . Just glad I am now out in the sticks and away from London .
My sons are student age and live in London in a flat together. We (their parents) live up in the West Midlands now but have also lived in London and I must say that what you have said has crossed my mind in the last fortnight. Urban areas with marauding gangs are not where you want to be after a few days without electric and gas. I have been chivvying my sons for years to always carry some cash for when the card machines stop working but they just wander about assuming everything will always work in the 24/7 city that is London and tell me to stop being old fashioned because 'nobody uses cash now'.
 
On black start the lack of fossil fuel plant in certain parts of the grid is another one of those unforeseen vulnerabilities for sure. I assume SPEN will get a jump start from England or SSEN?

I worked with the electric industry for a long time at the economic end not screwdriver end but always liked talking to the power engineers who could tell me how it really worked. One thing they regularly hinted was that if it all goes wrong they will always rely on Drax to get it started again. Not something they cant do with wind turbines, solar or even nukes.

I assume there is some kind of dedicated communication phone system between National Grid and power stations that doesn't rely on mobile phones or VOIP. An old copper line with analogue signal and its own battery back up power source for example. If it does all blackout I am quite sure that an engineer on the National Grid control desk will need to phone the engineer at a few of the key fossil fuel power stations to coordinate actions. It wont all just work with telemetry that is for sure.

The black start plan is to jump start Dinorwig in North Wales from diesel generators then use its hydro generators to start the rest of the grid going. This plan may or may not work in an exceptionally dry year.
 

TractorStats

War Hero
I have spoken to people here in Dallas who moved here from New Orleans and have never gone back. Doctors and nurses walked out of hospitals and care homes to get home to their families, police buggered off to their families and the animals went on the prowl. The Feds sent in a PMC, fully tooled up to kickstart law and order, that caused some issues. In general it was about a week though before anything vaguely positive started to happen. There is much that is not mentioned and spoken about that time by the people who went through it.
That is very scary. What you are talking about is how a society collapses in real time. Just thinking back to the start of Covid and all those old people they found laying in care homes (USA/Spain) uncared for because the staff had left their posts. We just assume 'society works because it does' but it takes people to stay at their post and do the right thing. This being a military forum a lot of people here have gone on to emergency services or critical infrastructure jobs afterwards and staying at your post and doing the right thing comes with military training and I cant honestly say that permeates all civilian life.

I have a friend who is a GP. He does a very unusual private doctor work but also works occasionally as a locum GP to keep his general practice skills up. He told me that GPs abandoned their surgeries as soon as Covid hit and just went home and refused to come in. He had senior partners of surgeries phoning him asking him to go and see critically ill people because 'we don't want to catch Covid'. They were all very keen to get paid £20 per shot to go and do vaccinations though and earn a nice income while their surgeries stayed shut. My GP friend is absolutely disgusted by his profession and its behaviour but it just shows what might happen in any crisis.
 
My sons are student age and live in London in a flat together. We (their parents) live up in the West Midlands now but have also lived in London and I must say that what you have said has crossed my mind in the last fortnight. Urban areas with marauding gangs are not where you want to be after a few days without electric and gas. I have been chivvying my sons for years to always carry some cash for when the card machines stop working but they just wander about assuming everything will always work in the 24/7 city that is London and tell me to stop being old fashioned because 'nobody uses cash now'.

How are they going to get into the shop that is unable to open it shutters, till or scan prices?
 

REMEwalt

Old-Salt
I have spoken to people here in Dallas who moved here from New Orleans and have never gone back. Doctors and nurses walked out of hospitals and care homes to get home to their families, police buggered off to their families and the animals went on the prowl. The Feds sent in a PMC, fully tooled up to kickstart law and order, that caused some issues. In general it was about a week though before anything vaguely positive started to happen. There is much that is not mentioned and spoken about that time by the people who went through it.
My best mate was living in Dallas at the time and offered accommodation to a colleague from New Orleans during Katrina, who he subsequently married. As far as I know she has never spoken about what happened during those days before she got out.
 
I have a friend who is a GP. He does a very unusual private doctor work but also works occasionally as a locum GP to keep his general practice skills up. He told me that GPs abandoned their surgeries as soon as Covid hit and just went home and refused to come in. He had senior partners of surgeries phoning him asking him to go and see critically ill people because 'we don't want to catch Covid'. They were all very keen to get paid £20 per shot to go and do vaccinations though and earn a nice income while their surgeries stayed shut. My GP friend is absolutely disgusted by his profession and its behaviour but it just shows what might happen in any crisis.

The prestige and social status of doctors and the deference they are given is in large part predicated on it not being just a 9-5 job but requiring a certain character and selflessness. If it's just another job, let's treat it as such. Break up the BMA and its stranglehold on training, open up the courses to anyone who has the A-levels, employ them as any other white collar workers. Anyone capable of getting any STEM degree could qualify as a doctor, they are not gods despite what they think of themselves, they've just done a couple of extra years at university and a sandwich placement.
 
The prestige and social status of doctors and the deference they are given is in large part predicated on it not being just a 9-5 job but requiring a certain character and selflessness. If it's just another job, let's treat it as such. Break up the BMA and its stranglehold on training, open up the courses to anyone who has the A-levels, employ them as any other white collar workers. Anyone capable of getting any STEM degree could qualify as a doctor, they are not gods despite what they think of themselves, they've just done a couple of extra years at university and a sandwich placement.
Plus 2 years foundation training & 3-8 years speciality training (depending on specialism) post graduation.
 
Plus 2 years foundation training & 3-8 years speciality training (depending on specialism) post graduation.

We are not talking the top brain surgeons here, just ordinary doctors. Let me give you an example. I am in no way whatsoever special despite others in same the organisation having to pass an arduous selection and do masses of extra courses. And I would be a massive chopper if I tried to claim I was by association. So it is the same with GPs.
 
That is very scary. What you are talking about is how a society collapses in real time. Just thinking back to the start of Covid and all those old people they found laying in care homes (USA/Spain) uncared for because the staff had left their posts. We just assume 'society works because it does' but it takes people to stay at their post and do the right thing. This being a military forum a lot of people here have gone on to emergency services or critical infrastructure jobs afterwards and staying at your post and doing the right thing comes with military training and I cant honestly say that permeates all civilian life.

I have a friend who is a GP. He does a very unusual private doctor work but also works occasionally as a locum GP to keep his general practice skills up. He told me that GPs abandoned their surgeries as soon as Covid hit and just went home and refused to come in. He had senior partners of surgeries phoning him asking him to go and see critically ill people because 'we don't want to catch Covid'. They were all very keen to get paid £20 per shot to go and do vaccinations though and earn a nice income while their surgeries stayed shut. My GP friend is absolutely disgusted by his profession and its behaviour but it just shows what might happen in any crisis.
My wife is a plastics nurse at a major hospital and has a very low opinion of GPs.
On the societal collapse? whilst social capital is something acknowledged as an invisible currency that can be spent by government in a crisis. When the crisis affects everyone at once, that's where things break down if there is any division in a community and declining social capital has already been spent.

The UK sees its strength through diversity and taking that onboard, has pretty much spent up a millennia of accumulated social capital, in a single generation.
 
My wife is a plastics nurse at a major hospital and has a very low opinion of GPs.
On the societal collapse? whilst social capital is something acknowledged as an invisible currency that can be spent by government in a crisis. When the crisis affects everyone at once, that's where things break down if there is any division in a community and declining social capital has already been spent.

The UK sees its strength through diversity and taking that onboard, has pretty much spent up a millennia of accumulated social capital, in a single generation.

All the social contacts have deteriorated, but all our public services still assume they are as strong as ever.

E.g. the concept of the NHS is "I don't mind paying for you when you genuinely need it, because I know you'll do the same for me" - even someone who still believes in the first part cannot rationally still believe in the second. Or the concept of the police is "99.9% of us know right from wrong, you can just deal with the deviants". And so on...

Should there be a genuine crises I predict all the diverse sub communities would close ranks around their own and leave anyone who believes in diversity on the outside!
 
The black start plan is to jump start Dinorwig in North Wales from diesel generators then use its hydro generators to start the rest of the grid going. This plan may or may not work in an exceptionally dry year.

Dinorwig is closed cycle is it not?
 
Dinorwig is closed cycle is it not?

Partially - it uses cheap off-peak electricity to pump water up to the storage reservoir from the lower reservoir but it also has to replenish its water levels from natural inflows. At least this is what I remember from a visit years ago, it used to be open to tourists.
 

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