Q3 2020: Capacity and production statistics

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London 

Outages and the ongoing COVID response have taken their toll on Britain’s nuclear output, which fell by almost a fifth from the same three months of last year.

Lower power prices in Britain also meant we imported a quarter less electricity from abroad compared to this time last year.  Exports were also up by a third, redressing somewhat the record-breaking trade deficit seen last year.

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

The gap left by falling nuclear and imports was filled by offshore wind and natural gas.  Offshore wind output and installed capacity both grew by a sixth over the past year, with a further 1.5 GW of new capacity coming online.  Gas output was up slightly on this time last year, giving rise to the first year-on-year increase in the fossil-fuelled share of electricity generation since 2010.

Year-on-year changes in the share of electricity from fossil fuels during Quarter 3
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.

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