Q2 2018: Capacity and production statistics

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London 

This quarter, low carbon sources produced 55% of Britain’s electricity and gas produced 41%.

Of the low-carbon sources, 50% was British nuclear and renewables, and 5% was French nuclear. 

The carbon intensity of electricity hit a new low of 195 g/kWh averaged over the quarter. Of this, 82% of emissions came from burning natural gas, and approximately 5% each from coal, biomass and imports from the Netherlands.

Demand was 68.2 TWh, unchanged from 2017 Q2. However, demand net of variable renewables (which must be met by fully-controllable generators) hit its lowest ever level of 54.1 TWh (1.2% below last year). This ‘net demand’ fell below 10 GW for the first time, reaching 9.85 GW on June 14th. Demand net of renewables and nuclear fell to just 2.4 GW, continuing the rapid descent towards net-zero that we reported on previously. 

Installed coal capacity fell below 13 GW as Drax closed its fourth unit for conversion to biomass. This 5% drop meant that Britain now has less coal than it does solar generating capacity – highlighting the dramatic shifts in the power sector. 

Meanwhile, wind capacity surpassed the milestone of 20 GW installed,1 and Lynemouth biomass conversion began operating, pushing up biomass capacity and output by a quarter. 

Britain’s electricity supply mix in the second quarter of 2018

Installed capacity and electricity produced by each technology2 

  1. Note that sources for installed wind capacity differ notably. Elexon report 21.1 GW (including projects currently being commissioned), whereas RenewableUK report 19.3 GW. We take the average of these.  
  2. Other statistical sources give different values because of the types of plant they consider. For example, BEIS Energy Trends records an additional 900 MW of wind, 600 MW of biomass and 500 MW of solar, respectively producing 1.4, 1.2 and 0.2 TWh extra per quarter. These plants and their output are not visible to the electricity transmission system operator and so cannot be reported on here. 

Authors: Dr Iain StaffellProfessor Richard GreenDr Rob Gross and Professor Tim Green.

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