Q4 2019: Capacity and production statistics

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London

Wind supplied its largest ever share of electricity over the fourth quarter of 2019, beating nuclear again to supply 23%. 

Four out of the last five quarters have seen wind being the second largest provider of electricity.

Coal output was down by half on this quarter last year. It supplied less than half the output of Britain’s biomass power stations, despite having more than twice the installed capacity.

Britain’s electricity supply mix in the forth quarter of 2019

Imports continued to grow, up 25% on this quarter last year. Over the fourth quarter, Britain imported five times more electricity than it exported.

Wholesale power prices were uneventful, averaging £39/MWh over the quarter. The highest instantaneous price was just £86, whereas the lowest price was a record-breaking –£73/MWh.

Prices have fallen by a one-third over the last year, driven by the falling cost of natural gas and coal. Futures contracts for natural gas have plummeted in recent months, halving since September 2019. 

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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