This summer was greenest ever for energy, says National Grid

26th September 2017 | Commercial Energy

The UK has set a new landmark for clean energy after the National Grid announced that the electricity powering the UK’s homes and businesses this summer was the greenest ever. The record comes as the first subsidy-free large solar power project opens in the UK, in what the government described as a significant moment for the energy sector.

Analysis by National Grid of power generation showed that a combination of solar, wind and nuclear – and an absence of coal – pushed carbon emissions to their lowest level yet over the season, making this the greenest summer.

Between 21 June and 22 September, the carbon intensity of the grid – as measured in grammes of CO2 emitted per KWh of power generated – was more than halved from its level over the same period four years ago.

This summer, nearly 52% of power came from low-carbon sources, compared with 35% in 2013. A growing number of solar and windfarms, coupled with nuclear and gas power stations, have transformed summer power supply and broken new records. On one Friday in May, solar panels even briefly provided more power than the UK’s nuclear fleet.

Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid, said, “It’s been a summer of records. The big fundamental shift has been the continuing growth in offshore wind and solar coming on. We’ve gone from renewables being a part of the mix to often being a significant, majority part of the mix.”

He added that while the group would have liked to have seen some windier, sunnier days in August, it had coped with the challenge of managing intermittent power sources such as wind and expected the trend to continue.

While National Grid said that handling the amount of variable, renewable power on the system is not adding to consumer costs at the moment, studies have shown a much higher penetration of green energy could result in higher bills. A report by the UK Energy Research Centre earlier this year warned that balancing intermittent wind and solar would increase costs if the grid is not made more flexible with new measures, such as battery storage.

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