Coal Plant Fired Up as Solar Panels Fail Because It’s Too Sunny

Will Jones – The Daily Sceptic June 13, 2023

Britain has started burning coal to generate electricity for the first time in a month and a half, after the heatwave made solar panels too hot to work efficiently. The Telegraph has the story.

One unit at Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power plant in Nottinghamshire started producing electricity for the first time in weeks on Monday morning, while another coal-powered plant was warmed up in case it was needed by the early afternoon.

The National Grid turned to coal to generate electricity as a rush to turn on air conditioning and fans across the country during the heatwave led to a spike in demand.

High temperatures over the weekend also reduced the amount of energy generated from solar panels. Output on Sunday was almost a third lower than a week earlier, despite temperatures climbing above 30 degrees Celsius across large parts of the country.

Solar panels are tested at a benchmark of 25°C. For every degree rise in temperature above this level, the efficiency is reduced by 0.5 percentage points.

The temperature level refers to the solar cell temperature, rather than the air temperature. In direct sunlight, the cells can easily reach 60 or 70 degrees.

Alastair Buckley, professor of organic electronics at the University of Sheffield, said: “Both days were largely sunny in the morning, so a good part of the reduction in output will be due to the efficiency reduction from higher temperatures on Saturday compared to Friday.

“Compared with a cool cloudy day, the cells might be a maximum of 25% less efficient.”

Supply was also lower because of depressed wind speeds, which hit turbine output, and some gas power plants being shut for maintenance.

Worth reading in full.

It’s reminiscent of how wind turbines have to be shut down when it’s too windy. In our renewables future, it seems only Goldilocks will have power.

To add to the absurdity, Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station was due to be shut last year and is now scheduled to be closed next year.

And what will we do then?

I’m not sure they’ve thought this through.


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15 Responses to “Coal Plant Fired Up as Solar Panels Fail Because It’s Too Sunny”

  1. Tapestry says:

    Solar makes more power in sunny weather overall – longer hours of sun, ten times more energy in a summer day against a winter cloudy day or even forty times more. So a reduction of 25% hardly makes any difference. In Australia they put water through the panels to keep them cooler and maintain efficiency while producing hot water. Main media is being as dumb as possible about alternative technologies as the corporations are losing big money to them. Use your own mind to interpret what you read. SOlar power makes you independent. That’s the bit they really hate, same as wind power. Vertical wind turbines can handle stronger winds and are the main type used in Sweden, the world leaders in smaller systems.

    • ian says:

      Indeed Tap. I once saw a system where a whole roof was made from black aluminium channels capped by glass. Once the panels reached a preset temperature, water flowed down the channels from a central water tank. The tank was the heating for the buildings which were a group of six built in a hexagon shape. Completely self sufficient in heating and power.

      • ian says:

        BTW I forgot to add, that the other facets had solar panels installed.

  2. Chris x says:

    Solar and wind will never replace fossil fuels for electricity generation. Their undpredicatability and variability puts strain on the grid which means that backup has to be available at all times to takeover when there are lulls, This is done using CCGT (gas turbines) power stations and if needed the interconnectors with Europe, The UK should be basing its power generation from nuclear, coal and gas to fill in the peaks and troughs.

    • Tapestry says:

      Ever heard of batteries, Chris? mechanical, water pumping, hydrogen storage, heat storage. The alternative fuel world is in its infancy and is only where it is thanks to the closed minds of vested interests.

    • pete fairhurst 2 says:

      I totally agree Chris. A modern economy cannot run on wind and solar alone. The Germans proved that last winter when the wind didn’t blow and the sun didn’t shine. They had no choice but to reactivate coal and nuclear. They had to, to keep the lights on and the machines whirring. Wind and solar just don’t hack it for consistent supply right now. Particularly in winter. If reliable supply is required then, they aren’t sufficient, more is needed. Gas and nuclear being potentially the cleanest

      Tap might be correct at some time in the future with those technologies that he lists. But they are undeveloped and will definitely not suffice at the moment. The alternatives are in their infancy, I agree with him about that. That’s exactly why they don’t hack it right now

      I’ve seen evidence that so called “fossil” fuels are NOT fossils at all. That they are replenished from the Earth. If that proves to be correct then, the alternatives may never make it. The money guys would be better to focus on the clean use of “free” fossil fuels from the Earth, far better payback. The money men rule of course, always have, probably always will

      • pete fairhurst 2 says:

        I thought that the German Greens were lunatics with their fanatical insistence on closing coal and nuclear overnight. The US destruction of Nordstream proved that to be correct

        The Greens in general are fanatical zealots who are prepared to see folk suffer in their fanaticism. They are just as bad as all the other controlled political entities, in some ways worse

        To quote Montague Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, 1924

        “By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies on matters of no importance”

        Has anything changed since then? Precious little it seems to me

        • ian says:

          an excellent quote there Pete.

          • pete fairhurst 2 says:

            Thanks Ian, here is a fuller version:

            Montagu Norman 1924

            “Capital must protect itself in every possible way, both by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as soon as possible. When through the process of law, the common people loose their homes they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of the government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers. These truths are well known amongst our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism to govern the world. By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance. It is thus by discrete action we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished”

            And here is his predecessor, Sir Josiah Stamp, also in 1920’s:

            “The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding sleight of hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in inequity and born in sin…. Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them but leave them the power to create money and with a flick of a pen, they will create enough money to buy it all back again. Take this great power away from them and all great fortunes like mine will disappear, and then this would be a better and happier world to live in… But if you want to remain slaves of the bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let the bankers continue to create money and control credit”

            Has anything changed since then in theses respects?

        • pete fairhurst 2 says:

          Thanks Chris, very interesting

          The abiotic oil theory is compelling, but we don’t have anything definitive yet as far as I know, just assertions by vested interests

          The fossil fuel theory certainly facilitates artificial scarcity too. The bad guys just love artificial scarcity, so they could well be lying when they say that oil is finite.

          If I was a betting man, which I’m not, then I’d bet on abiotic rather than fossil. Either way we still haven’t got a viable industrial alternative to oil and gas