Renewables set UK power generation records in 1H 2020

31st August 2020 | Commercial Energy

UK renewables generation was up 32% year-on-year as biomass, wind and solar set new generation records in the second quarter of 2020, the latest Drax report shows. At one point renewable electricity sources were providing almost 70% (69.5%) of Britain’s electricity, the Drax Electrical Insights report found. During this period, wind and solar power provided a lot of the electricity required by the grid, which helped the carbon intensity fall to 153 g/kwh averaged over the quarter – its lowest on record.

The carbon intensity of electricity fell to an all-time low of 21g/kwh on the Spring Bank Holiday, analysis by Imperial Consultants found. Wholesale power prices dropped 42% from same quarter last year, as demand plummeted during lockdown. However, the cost to balance the grid rose to over €110m per month as pumped hydro storage and CCGTs called on to manage low demand and high generation from wind and solar sources.


According to the report, these technologies were unable to provide all the services needed to stabilise the system, such as inertia, which is essential for maintaining the grid’s frequency at 50Hz and preventing power cuts. Alongside keeping power supply and demand perfectly in balance, Drax said National Grid ESO must also stabilise the system.
Drax’s UK portfolio generation director, Mike Maudsley, said, “It has been challenging time for everyone in the country and for our power system. The last few months have underlined the importance of flexible, low carbon technologies to enable the UK’s power system to evolve and provide the secure and sustainable electricity supplies a zero carbon economy needs.”

Lead author of the quarterly Electric Insights reports Dr Iain Staffell said, “The past few months have given the country a glimpse into the future for our power system, with higher levels of renewable energy and lower demand make for a difficult balancing act. To help the country decarbonise further it is vital that flexible technologies which provide power and system stability paly an increasing role in our grid.”

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