Wind power overtook nuclear in UK energy pecking order for January

8th February 2018 | Commercial Energy

Independent energy marketing monitoring specialists, EnAppSys, has released data showing high wind generation of the few months has propelled wind energy to second from the top in the UK’s energy pecking order.

Average wind generation across January was 8.1GW per settlement period, second to the 16.2GW average of the CCGT fleet and overtaking the nuclear fleet at 7.0GW. It means wind has overtaken nuclear power in terms of contribution to the country’s electric power.

Since February, the hierarchy of contributions to our fuel mix has been CCGT (gas-fired power), followed by nuclear then wind, with January 2017 the last time that coal-fired power made it into the top three (with an average of 6.3GW, whilst wind was at 4.7GW).

Wind power

Last month, however, saw a significant change: whilst nuclear generation increased from the 6.7GW in December, the rise in wind generation was greater, moving this fleet up into second place.
According to EnAppSys, this year’s nuclear average was the lowest for a January since the 5.8GW in 2009, with both Sizewell B units offline from November to February and Heysham 1-2 offline from mid-November into early December. Despite this, the two previous Januarys also had averages (7.6GW and 7.4GW respectively) lower than this January’s wind average.

“Whilst the 8.1GW wind average was exactly half that of the 16.2GW CCGT average, the fact that wind outstripped the nuclear fleet, the archetypal baseload generation, shows that this renewable technology is evolving from intermittency to being able to make a reliable contribution to the nation’s electricity supply,” EnAppSys analyst Katie Fenn stated.

“Some commentators thought that an increase in wind generation on the system would bring an increase in imbalance volumes, as the wind fleet is not controllable in the same way as the thermal fleets. This does not seem to have occurred.

“Whilst the percentage of settlement periods each month with zero imbalance volumes has generally decreased, the percentage of periods with large positive imbalances eg a loss of over 0.5GW generation, has not increased significantly.”

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