According to Professor Jonathan Stern, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, the lights aren’t going out, and Russia doesn’t own the switch. Prof Stern claims that the UK currently has around 4GW of gas powered generating capacity on standby, as it isn’t profitable to run all of it. Gas power kicks in at times of peak demand, when electricity spot prices are higher. As old generating capacity gradually goes offline over the next decade or so, and the supply-demand gap narrows, our existing gas generating capacity will come online more frequently, and if it appears to be nearing capacity, we will gradually build more. No need to panic.
Across the country, wind power output varies by less than 5% an hour, and the trend (to continue falling, or start to rise again) is accurately predicted by weather forecasters. This gives ample time for gas power stations to fire up, keeping the lights on. No repeat of the Californian energy crisis here, is the message given by Prof Stern. To borrow his conclusion, “wind and gas may not be the best possible option, but it is far from the worst in relation to costs and carbon emissions“.
Read his letter to the Guardian here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/07/light-heat-energy-supply