Ministers should impose limits on the construction of new wind and solar farms to help avoid a nationwide blackout, according to a former director of National Grid.
Colin Gibson, who was power network director of Britain’s electricity system, claimed that some existing turbines and solar panels may have to be disconnected, and new developments restricted, to “secure” the system after major power cuts earlier this month.
In an analysis co-written by Dr Capell Aris, a former grid engineer, Mr Gibson states that the system failure revealed several “serious problems” with the operation of the national electricity network, which require an “immediate, independent, expert review”.
Their intervention comes amid a government inquiry into the outage, which occurred after the Little Barford gas-fired power station in Cambridgeshire and a major wind farm off the Yorkshire coast both temporarily stopped producing electricity. According to the Financial Times, a provisional report by National Grid suggested that the wind farm may have tripped offline seconds before the Little Barford power station.
The blackout affected a million people in London and the South East, the Midlands, the South West, Yorkshire, the North East, Cornwall and Wales.
National Grid, the firm that operates the country’s power network,has insisted that unpredictable wind power generation was not to blame.
But, in an analysis of public data on the electricity running through the grid on the day of the outage, Mr Gibson and Dr Aris claim that the failures of the two plants resulted in a loss of frequency – a measure of energy intensity – five times greater than historic slumps. Mr Gibson was power network director at National Grid from 1993 to 1997.