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To do that sciencey bit about the power cuts

Summary:
In order to be able to do science it is necessary for us to have an hypothesis. An idea that, if this happens, then that. Such an hypothesis is always open to disproof by reality. That one ugly fact that can explode a beautiful theory.At which point, to ruminate upon the power outages yesterday across Britain:The enormous impact of this power failure is likely to lead to questions about the strength and robustness of the system. The BBC understands that two power supply plants - one a traditional gas and steam-fired power station in Cambridgeshire, the other a huge wind-turbine farm in the North Sea - failed at about 16:00 BST.National Grid described it as an "unexpected, and unusual event".An additional factor may have been capacity problems at Britain's largest single power station in

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In order to be able to do science it is necessary for us to have an hypothesis. An idea that, if this happens, then that. Such an hypothesis is always open to disproof by reality. That one ugly fact that can explode a beautiful theory.

At which point, to ruminate upon the power outages yesterday across Britain:

The enormous impact of this power failure is likely to lead to questions about the strength and robustness of the system.

The BBC understands that two power supply plants - one a traditional gas and steam-fired power station in Cambridgeshire, the other a huge wind-turbine farm in the North Sea - failed at about 16:00 BST.

National Grid described it as an "unexpected, and unusual event".

An additional factor may have been capacity problems at Britain's largest single power station in Yorkshire.

The sudden drop in available power caused protective measures to kick in that immediately cut electricity supply to a section of the National Grid network.

Our hypothesis is that running the National Grid on intermittent power sources is more difficult - without power outages - than running it on reliable power sources. Indeed, we have had numerous predictions that trying to run the country on wind and solar could cause problems. Like, say, wind speed at a producing wind farm going over safe limits, the entire operation thereby shutting down, that then cascading across the Grid. That standby gas cycle plant perhaps powering up in time, perhaps not. This leading to shutting off power to some parts of said gird in order to save other parts of it.

We have our hypothesis. We have our fact. And we can’t as yet say that our fact disproves our theory. Which is going to make that inevitable report into events most interesting to read, isn’t it?

If we’re allowed to read it of course.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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