Q1 2020: Capacity and production statistics

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London

This quarter saw wind come within striking distance of beating gas for the first time ever – with just 0.1 TWh separating them. 

Wind farm capacity factors averaged nearly 50% over the quarter, well above their long-run average of 30% (26% for onshore and 37% for offshore).

Electricity generation from fossil fuels was down an incredible 25% on this quarter last year – the largest single fall on record. Gas- fired power stations ran at an average of just 38% of their installed capacity over the quarter – a lower utilisation than onshore wind farms. However, at their peak, fossil fuel plants needed to run at near-full capacity at some point during the quarter (96% for gas, 83% for coal). This shows there is still a need to keep these assets around for times when demand is high and renewable output is low, at least until other flexible technologies can take their place.

Year-on-year change in electricity generation from fossil fuels

Britain’s electricity supply mix in the first quarter of 2020

Installed capacity and electricity produced by each technology 1 2

1: Other sources give different values because of the types of plant they consider. For example, BEIS Energy Trends records an additional 0.7 GW of hydro, 0.6 GW of biomass and 3 GW of waste-to-energy plants. These plants and their output are not visible to the electricity transmission system and so cannot be reported on here.

2: We include an estimate of the installed capacity of smaller storage devices which are not monitored by the electricity market operator. Britain’s storage capacity is made up of 2.9 GW of pumped hydro storage, 0.6 GW of lithium-ion batteries, 0.4 GW of flywheels and 0.3 GW of compressed air.

Live Grid Data