Smart meters (again?)

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rjb
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby rjb » 30 Oct 2020, 8:14am

BTW there is a current series of documentaries on BBC2 showing the transformation of the electricity generating industry. Last night featured wind turbines. Next one is biomass and nuclear comes later.
Powering Britain, Series 1: Wind: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000lxnz via @bbciplayer
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kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 30 Oct 2020, 12:25pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:And I therefore don't see the need to pay folk to use energy. It escapes me.
Both as a balancing of the grid and as a business model.

And I don't see why you don't get that.

Your entire lack of understanding seems to be based around *your* idea of how things should work when very obviously that's not how they work.

If something doesn't work the way you think it should the most likely reason is that you simply don't understand it, not that it's working the wrong way.
That's where such nonsense as flat earth comes from, when folk don't understand something they simply decide it can't work like that and invent something else.

Looking at gridwatch and making statements like "there's x amount of y and b amount of c therefore" - means nothing if you have no understanding of the mechanisms involved.
Just because you think something should or shouldn't be running or is fast or slow to turn on or off is irrelevant - I'm pretty sure the folk mixing our energy know what they're doing and aim to get the energy to the grid as cheap as possible for any given instant.

And of course the final point is that modifying peoples behaviour requires motivation.
I've changed my behaviour along the lines they want me to so obviously the system works, you haven't so possibly it doesn't.
Which only leaves the question; for any given incentive what percentage of people will change their behaviour? Currently with a sample of two that's only 50%. ;)


All of that is of course not to say I think the system is likely to be perfect, I'm pretty sure those very same experts that run it have lots of stories to tell as experts in any industry do.
But it certainly doesn't imply I know better than them.

PDQ Mobile
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby PDQ Mobile » 30 Oct 2020, 12:51pm

kwackers wrote:And I don't see why you don't get that.

Snip for space

Perhaps you will be proved right.

My approach has been use less leccy and other energy to "save the planet" for many decades.
But I still run an ICE vehicle because it suits my needs and on an overall scale is pretty cheap to run.

In terms of it working here, low living costs, and (I think) a reasonable scenario that my meagre consumption is sustainable into the foreseeable future, it has shown itself to function.
(I am working on a wood-burning tractor idea!!)

Large scale wind production has changed the balance somewhat I guess.

Yet to generate and lose money just seems so counter intuitive.
When you could, at low cost, just shut the amount generated down.
This shut down cost is at the heart of our disagreement I guess.

As I intimated upthread, EV and other big users would surely take their power at the lowest available cost (or for free) whenever they could. The carrot doesn't have to be big just a little juicy (sorry!).

I personally don't see the need to pay them to "balance the grid".
If that leccy made less of a deliberate loss then other consumers could benefit from reduced tariffs.
Not necessarily peak demand, though that is included of course, just ordinary consumption though a 24 hour period.

I will be interested in your longer term experience with "windy wheels".
Enjoy it.

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 30 Oct 2020, 1:07pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:I personally don't see the need to pay them to "balance the grid".
If that leccy made less of a deliberate loss then other consumers could benefit from reduced tariffs.
Not necessarily peak demand, though that is included of course, just ordinary consumption though a 24 hour period.


Yeah but they're not being paid to balance the grid!
They're simply paying the going rate for electricity - that price isn't deliberately set for EV owners. It's just the current wholesale price of electricity, that a supplier decided to make a feature of it means nothing to you.

So your whole point of "other consumers could benefit" is nonsense because they already are.

Do you think when Octopus are paying -20p for their energy that your supplier is paying over the odds?
Of course they're not, they also paying -20p so the average price they pay for electricity is factored into what you pay.

PDQ Mobile
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby PDQ Mobile » 30 Oct 2020, 3:17pm

Didn't say just EVs though clearly high leccy use off-peak consumers benefit more than anyone else.
However you spin it, if the Generators didn't lose 20p for every kwh then their profitability would improve.
The Generators do have, after all, something of a monopoly, and as I just said, if they gave it away it would not affect consumption over negative rated leccy, IMV.

If their profits improve then they could make a little less profit on peak demand, and presently expensive, leccy?


And to my mind we would then all benefit too.
But maybe I see it too simply.

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 30 Oct 2020, 4:08pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:Didn't say just EVs though clearly high leccy use off-peak consumers benefit more than anyone else.

That's right - because they balance the grid.

When your supplier is making a profit of 20p for every kwh they buy - how much do you use?
If you don't use any then how much profit have you made them?
Let me guess here - 0p?
I wonder how much profit Octopus made when I charged my car? Somewhat more than 0p I reckon, probably used it to average out their costs and reduce other peoples bills - must be a reason they're considerably cheaper than your supplier...

But it's not about suppliers - it always comes down to balancing the grid.

So let's just straighten something up here - you don't believe a balanced grid is a good thing?
You actually believe that it's better if more power is consumed over a small period of time right?

Because unless you believe that then you have to accept that moving power used from peak to off peak is a good thing and the only way that will happen is to have a tariff that supports it.

I'm gonna guess here that if I was using Economy 7 to charge my car you'd still have issues, or was on Octopus Go (5p off peak, 15p peak)?
Or EDF's 8p off peak and weekends tariff?

PDQ Mobile wrote:However you spin it, if the Generators didn't lose 20p for every kwh then their profitability would improve.
The Generators do have, after all, something of a monopoly, and as I just said, if they gave it away it would not affect consumption over negative rated leccy, IMV.

Except of course that's nonsense.
The generators don't have a monopoly, they compete with each other.
When power is cheap it's because they have no other option but to give it away or put up with the cost of shutting down.

Doesn't matter whether I use that power or not - they're going to lose money. If they sell it cheaper than it costs to make they lose money, if they shut down they lose money - I'm pretty sure they'll have done their sums and opted for the cheapest of the two though.
And of course if you're a conventional generator you'll struggle competing with wind when it's plentiful - that stuff is almost free.

Do you seriously believe they're selling at a loss for a laugh? Or perhaps to annoy you?

The only person that's putting spin on this is you.
I'm telling you what happens and suggesting why it might happen, you don't like it so you make up all sorts of stories - the problem is your stories don't fit the facts.

I think you should give it up and let the folk who know what they're doing do the big boy stuff.

In the meantime I've got about 20kwh of space in my car and my missus needs to fire her kiln at some point over this windy weekend.

PDQ Mobile
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby PDQ Mobile » 30 Oct 2020, 7:39pm

^^ kwackers.
You say the Generators don't have a monopoly.
But I am not so sure about that.

The different branches of the generating industry couldn't compete (you said that yourself about nuclear) with each other unless there was some sort of leveling.

I think that probably comes from state subsidy in varying forms.
But that in itself indicates some sort of cartel or monopolistic structure?
........
Solar has been and continues to be generously State subsidized. That's for sure.
I am pretty sure the wind industry has attracted some State help.
Gas turbine is something of dark-horse! I can't even find out how many there are, let alone who owns them.
And the nuclear industry and most especially now the ex-nuclear industry is definitely in receipt of enormous amounts of state aid. That is it still costs us loads but generates zilch.
......
A quick search reveals the good old CEGB was split into only two GENERATING companies after privatization in 1997.
(With a third new company taking over the responsibility for the grid.)

I simple can't find anything else, my searching skills are quite poor and my old Safari browser is now banned from Wiki; it's a security risk apparently!!

No contemporary information about actual generation, except any number of leccy suppliers all vying for my custom.

Your Octopus prominent amongst them.
Scores high, says it's big on solar. Nothing about wind. (Dunno how they do it cos there's no solar to speak of here the last few days).
It says they're "green" energy suppliers but neatly all companies blather on about that. Even crap rated Scot Power.
The percentages of the sources of actual leccy coming to the meter (after gridwatch) soon put that illusion into sharper focus.

Today it seems there are many separate companies SUPPLYING retail leccy, over 60 apparently, there were 70 in the spring of 2018.
The missing ones have gone bust it says here. That's around 14%.
https://www.ukpower.co.uk/the-big-six-energy-companies

So put me right, how many companies actually generate power supplying the grid today?
I tried to find out but get nowhere.

Dinorwig and Ffestiniog are owned by first hydro it says. Private enterprises bought from the state. But of course they don't generate anything but store.

If there is straight and brutal competition amongst Generators, with no leveling mechanism as you suggest, how do they all manage to stay in business given all the variables and differing overheads?
Yet broadly most of us pay similar basic tariffs.
Your model upthread has both mine and yours making zero profit!

Genuinely curious now.

Ps
I did come across this dreadful lot when searching though stuff. They have some new business "model" for flogging leccy it seems. :(
image.jpg

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 30 Oct 2020, 9:44pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:^^ kwackers.
You say the Generators don't have a monopoly.
But I am not so sure about that.

The different branches of the generating industry couldn't compete (you said that yourself about nuclear) with each other unless there was some sort of leveling.

There isn't any levelling, just a mix of power generators with differing prices for generation and shutdown.

When someone builds a power station they obviously enter into a contract that makes certain guarantees - I can't tell you what they are because I suspect they vary for every power plant.

Hinkley Point has a guaranteed price per MW (plus inflation). The contract is probably long and boring and probably includes us guaranteeing a minimum amount of energy to purchase plus processes for shutting down etc.
The devil I suspect is in the detail.

I also suspect generators can express a preference to shutting down or paying to generate when there's an oversupply.
So managing the grid is a case of looking at who's producing what, what it costs, what can be closed down, what that would cost and figuring out within the contractual frameworks what the best scenario is likely to be.
Generators simply roll the losses in with the profits when we all turn the kettles on.

What's really needed here is someone who actually knows how this stuff works to come in and give some actual data - working with what we've got we can only work backwards from the result and so it's guesswork.

PDQ Mobile wrote:Solar has been and continues to be generously State subsidized. That's for sure.

All generation is subsidised, there's nothing special about solar.
However these days both solar and wind are probably the least subsidised of all generation, the gov have been continually lowering subsidies over the years as the tech has gotten cheaper.

Home solar subsidies are now so little that most people don't bother, you really only get export (5p per kwh) against which the paperwork doesn't make it worthwhile and 5p is less than they'd sell the power on for so they'd make money from it anyway.
IIRC the prices you get for commercial scale systems are less than that so you really need economies of scale to make it work.

Compare that to the subsidies that oil, gas, nuclear and even coal get and it's a drop in the ocean.

One of the interesting things to note is that when you see figures for solar generation (and wind) on gridwatch that doesn't include private solar/wind.
So all those solar panels on peoples roofs aren't being counted.

Of course there's a potential issue there - you can't turn off private solar, so in theory if everyone had it and usage was low then there's a potential oversupply issue.
It's one of the reasons your supplier is supposed to be told you're fitting solar and exporting energy back to the grid.

However other than it's highly unlikely all the private homes in this country would ever have enough solar to put us in that position you can get inverters which monitor supply and don't feed back to the grid if you produce too much and I suspect if we ever were likely to be in that position the rules involving private solar would simply mandate such devices.

PDQ Mobile wrote:Your Octopus prominent amongst them.
Scores high, says it's big on solar. Nothing about wind. (Dunno how they do it cos there's no solar to speak of here the last few days).
It says they're "green" energy suppliers but neatly all companies blather on about that. Even crap rated Scot Power.
The percentages of the sources of actual leccy coming to the meter (after gridwatch) soon put that illusion into sharper focus.

Well they're 'green' because they buy their energy from green producers.
Bob mentions it upstream, basically what it really boils down to is demonstrating to generators and suppliers that there's a demand for green generation so it's just long term pressure to invest in green energy.

PDQ Mobile wrote:So put me right, how many companies actually generate power supplying the grid today?
I tried to find out but get nowhere.

Not a clue, but it's quite a few particularly if you include various wind and solar farms - there are quite a few small scale (i.e. a few MW systems out there which are privately owned).

PDQ Mobile wrote:If there is straight and brutal competition amongst Generators, with no leveling mechanism as you suggest, how do they all manage to stay in business given all the variables and differing overheads?
Yet broadly most of us pay similar basic tariffs.
Your model upthread has both mine and yours making zero profit!

Like I said it's all contractual and without being able to examine those contracts we don't actually know the in's and out's.
But if a generator has reached its minimum contracted supply level and is given a choice between an expensive shut down or running anyway at a smaller loss then I suspect they choose the smaller loss.
Like most things they rely on nailing our hats on when we're desperate (i.e. peak).

As I said though this is mostly supposition on my part, ideally we need someone to tell us what's actually going on or point us to the right place to see it.
The only thing we know for certain is sometimes the generators prefer to run at a loss.

rjb
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby rjb » 30 Oct 2020, 10:21pm

Its a long time ago but when the industry was broken up and sold off the generators were initially split into 5 companies, National Power, Powergen, Scottish Power and Scottish Hydro plus the nukes which stayed with the state as no one wanted them as the city couldn't work on a 40 year investment return. They wanted the profits over a shorter 10 year timescale. :roll:
The Grid and the pumped storage were retained and split between the suppliers (area boards) and sold off later, from memory there were 10 of these, Sweb, southern electric, Midlands, south wales, + others.
Trading was based on how much the generators bid to sell electric to the grid on an individual power station basis. Because of the long timescale involved to get a nuclear unit connected they were bidding very low prices to ensure they were called to synchronise to the grid continuously (1p per kwhr springs to mind) The price the generators got for there electric was the price of the last generator called onto the grid, so in winter when generation was in short supply the least economic generators were called and there prices could be of the order of 40p per KWhr. This was what every generator received not their bid price.
This may well have changed as the market has been reformed and tweaked since i retired from Hinkley 20 years ago and as pointed out Hinkley C has a guaranteed price for the electric it will generate. The generators were bought out by foreign firms as were the area boards and the individual power stations were eventually sold on. If you want to see the current list of generators and owners here it is https://gridwatch.co.uk/stations it may surprise you to see how many generators there are currently and who owns them. :shock: Generators were sometimes spinning reserve where a steam turbine/ alternator unit was connected to the grid generating virtually nothing but with the plant running and the boilers steaming in case they were needed in an emergency if another unit tripped off the system. These units could be loaded up quickly to cater for any losses. Obviously they would need paying and this is where the grid places contracts with them. Nowadays King Coal has died and been replaced by much more flexible gas turbines which can be loaded up quickly to meet demand. This is a simplistic picture but hopefully gives you an idea of how it all fits together. :lol:

And it looks like we may soon be starting on Sizewell C the next big Nuke. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54754016
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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby [XAP]Bob » 31 Oct 2020, 12:21am

Desperately need to get some new nukes into production...
Been saying that for years, but politicians work on a shorter timescale than even investment banks.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

rjb
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby rjb » 31 Oct 2020, 9:02am

There's a better explanation on Wikipedia of how the electric market works. Just the thing to entertain you during lockdown. :lol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrici ... prov=sfla1
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kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 31 Oct 2020, 10:48am

rjb wrote:There's a better explanation on Wikipedia of how the electric market works. Just the thing to entertain you during lockdown. :lol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrici ... prov=sfla1

That was really quite enlightening - thanks.

Unsurprisingly a lot more complex than the simplistic notions in my head and probably requires some sort of economics degree or a long time studying to *actually* understand.
I can't wait to start arguing the finer details without a clue how it all works now... :lol:

PDQ Mobile
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby PDQ Mobile » 31 Oct 2020, 11:03am

rjb wrote:There's a better explanation on Wikipedia of how the electric market works. Just the thing to entertain you during lockdown. :lol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrici ... prov=sfla1

Thank you for the links and the wide knowledge.
Sadly I can longer access Wiki (only recent the last few weeks).
It says my old Safari browser is a security risk, though how that can be escapes me. (Quite a lot does in the modern world!)

It WOULD seem that there IS some sort of cartel type structure in the generating industry.
Though I cannot say I fully understand it.
And while there are elements of competition there are also protective systems in place.
And guaranteed prices!


To be honest I couldn't see how it could otherwise function, esp. with negative tariffs.
Only such a structure could prevent those small generators going out of business- fast.
And dare I say guaranteed high peak prices allow the low, below cost, rates to function.


I was surprised at the numbers of generators actually involved. Many are very new. Names seem to change like underwear. Dinorwig is now "Engie Power" , I live near and have never heard of them.
Trawsfynydd and its old associated structures have also changed ownership(?) (and names) a great deal.

Some of the list (many?) are very small, (small is beautiful) and I could not face, on my tiny screen, (where they run to 48 pages) trying to organize them into groups of actual companies.

And then those companies into the (probably) relatively few big generators.

Lock down notwithstanding!!

I prefer gathering Chestnuts.
Which are Solar energy for the body and soul.

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 31 Oct 2020, 12:11pm

All this talk of suppliers reminded me of this.
Definitely one for you PDQ...

Here in Warrington we have our own solar farm owned by the council - although it's actually physically located in York.
34.7MW (and apparently subsidy free)
(We also have another 25.7MW being built at Hull)

https://www.warrington.gov.uk/news/gridserve-completes-game-changing-hybrid-solar-farm-warrington-borough-council

Not sure what it means to me living in Warrington but it must mean something... :lol:

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squeaker
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby squeaker » 31 Oct 2020, 12:41pm

rjb wrote:There's a better explanation on Wikipedia of how the electric market works. Just the thing to entertain you during lockdown. :lol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrici ... prov=sfla1


Thanks, and for your earlier elucidations. They prodded me to look at Gridwatch again, which led me to their CO2 pageand its interesting table of lifecycle CO2 emissions for different generation methods. The surprisingly high (to me) value for SolarPV then took me to their source (published in 2011) which inherently only used earlier papers, many of which were also secondary sources - you get the picture :roll:

So, back to Ecosia search engine, which threw up this 2020 report, an interesting read in itself. Its lifecycle data seems to come from the International Energy Agency, which seems fairly kosher, although seemingly open to criticism about it's environmental forecasting? The IEA's home page threw up this interesting report about the environmental impact of battery storage with SolarPV, summary slides here. So I still don't know how much the manufacturing efficiency improvements over the last decade have reduced the lifecycle emissions of SolarPV, but I've broadened my mind :lol:
"42"