Q3 2017: The quarter’s headlines

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London 

This quarter’s issue looks at how Britain’s power system decarbonisation compares globally, and how it can be taken further. 

We unveil the international league table for low carbon electricity in Article 1, which charts the carbon intensity of electricity production across 33 countries. In the last four years, Britain 
has jumped 13 places to have the 7th cleanest major power system. 

National Grid released the world’s first grid carbon forecast: predicting the cleanest times to use electricity over the coming 48 hours. Article 2 looks at how this could underpin new services that enable people and businesses to shift when they consume electricity and lower their carbon emissions by up to 25%. 

Article 3 charts the growing importance of imports: 9% of Britain’s electricity was generated overseas during July and August. But as we import electricity, we export emissions. Britain’s power system has decarbonised to the point that imports now raise the average carbon content of our electricity. Article 4 follows on by looking at the future of Britain’s interconnectors, and the regulatory uncertainty they face from exiting the European Union. 
The last three months were relatively quiet for the power system after several records were broken in Quarter 2. The generation mix was unchanged, and coal output remained at historic lows (see Article 5). Low-carbon sources edged upwards slightly to 55% of the mix despite wind and solar output being down on last quarter (due to the weather), and a week of zero output from transmissionconnected biomass plants in September (due to maintenance). Prices were uneventful, with no spikes above £200/MWh, and only 13 hours with zero or negative prices. Article 6 rounds up the statistics for the quarter. 

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

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