National Grid ESO confirms UK has completed 30 days and counting without coal power
The UK's record-breaking run without coal power passed another milestone yesterday, as National Grid ESO confirmed the grid had completed a full month without any input from the country's coal-fired power stations.
In a tweet yesterday morning, the grid operator announced that as of 12am on Sunday the country had completed 30 days, seven hours, and 36 minutes without coal power.
The record-breaking coal-free run is set to continue with a combination of forecast blustery and sunny weather conditions and depressed energy demand due to the UK's on-going home-working guidelines expected to mean demand for fossil fuel power remains lower than usual for several more weeks at least.
Another milestone for Britain! 👏 It's now a #CoalFreeMonth of #electricity generation in this country as of 12am on #SundayMorning. 30 days, 7 hours and 36 minutes (727+hrs) - and counting. Find out more about our #zerocarbon ambitions for GB's electricity system 👇 pic.twitter.com/KCohJNlFm6— National Grid ESO (@ng_eso) May 10, 2020
In a separate update, energy supplier Drax confirmed that low carbon energy sources provided around 70 per cent of the UK's power during the month when coal was kept offline.
Gas power plants made the single biggest contribution delivering 30 per cent of the mix during the 30 day period, but nuclear provided 21 per cent, wind 18 per cent, biomass nine per cent, and solar eight per cent. Imports delivered 11 per cent of the mix, while hydro and pumped storage facilities provided 1.5 per cent.
The record run has been enabled in part by the UK's coronavirus lockdown conditions, which have led to significantly lower power demand than is usually the case at this time of year. As such, it remains to be seen how the gradual easing of the lockdown announced last night by Prime Minister Boris Johnson will impact energy demand.
However, grid operators and analysts have been quick to note how the forced reduction in demand has provided a snapshot of how a cleaner grid is expected to operate in the coming years.
The UK is committed to phasing out the use of the coal power by 2025 at the latest and the past few months have seen two further coal plants close and an announcement that the Kilroot plant in Northern Ireland will be converted to run on gas.
National Grid has also announced an ambition to be able to operate a fully zero emission grid when weather conditions allow from 2025, as renewables capacity and smart grid functionality increases further to enable the side-lining of gas power plants when possible.
In related news, concerns that reduced power demand over the Bank Holiday weekend could lead to excess power supply and blackouts were addressed late last week.
The Times reported last week that National Grid had both written to Ofgem seeking emergency powers to curtail generation from smaller wind and solar farms and had entered into negotiations with Sizewell operator EDF to agree payments that would see the nuclear plant power down for a period if required.
A contract between National Grid and EDF was reportedly signed late last week, alongside the granting of emergency powers by Ofgem to ensure the grid operator could continue to effectively match supply and demand, even as demand continues to hit record low levels.
Looks like National Grid now has all the extra tools it should need to keep the lights on this weekend.— Emily Gosden (@emilygosden) May 7, 2020
The deal to halve Sizewell's output was signed overnight & the emergency powers to cut off surplus wind/solar were confirmed tonight.
Here's to blackout-free bank holiday...
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