Q1 2020: Power system records

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London

This was a record-breaking quarter for renewables and low-carbon power sources.

Britain’s wind farms broke all records, most notably by supplying an average of 12.3 GW through February, smashing previous record of 9.3 GW set back in December 2019.

Biomass supplied more than a tenth of electricity over a day for the first time on 27th March. Instantaneous output from all renewables exceeded 25 GW for the first time ever for a period on 12th March, up 11% on the previous record set one year ago.

March saw the lowest monthly-average power prices for more than a decade. The impact of the coronavirus lockdown is not yet breaking all-time record lows for demand, as these tend to happen in summer when people are away on holidays.

The tables below look over the past decade (2009 to 2020) and report the record output and share of electricity generation, plus sustained averages over a day, a month and a calendar year. Cells highlighted in blue are records that were broken in the first quarter of 2020. Each number links to the date it occurred on the Electric Insights website, allowing these records to be explored visually.

1: Note that Britain has no inter-seasonal electricity storage, so we only report on half-hourly and daily records. Elexon and National Grid only report the output of large pumped hydro storage plants. The operation of battery, flywheel and other storage sites is not publicly available.

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