Q4 2016: The quarter’s headlines

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London 

This issue sees low carbon generation break new records whilst France’s interconnector and nuclear plants break down. 

Low carbon generation averaged 40% over the quarter, and hit a new record of 81% during Christmas (see Article 2), demonstrating that it is possible to run the system with very little fossil fuels. Wind output is slightly down on last year because of the weather and new projects are beginning to dry up, but peak wind output exceeded 10 GW for the first time (see Article 3).

Britain became a net exporter to France for the first time in six years because of a crisis with French nuclear reactors, but these exports were limited as the interconnector was damaged during Storm Angus (see Article 4). The loss of imports from France left the power market tight, forcing National Grid to issue its first ‘Capacity Market’ notices. Power price volatility grew further, with prices peaking above £1,500 / MWh in Q4 (see Article 5) 

Coal has recovered slightly from the historic lows we reported in Quarter 3, but only to half its level this time last year. Coal output continued its strong downward trend, being displaced by cleaner gas because of falling fuel prices and the UK’s Carbon Price Floor. CO2 emissions were 23 MT, down 9% on this quarter last year, and 48% on Q4 2012. This issue finishes by looking back at 2016 for the power sector (see Article 6), and the capacity and production statistics over the quarter (see Article 7)

Average power output from each technology (left), and total CO2 emissions from the power sector (right) during the fourth quarter of the last five years:

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

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