UK gas generation down despite rise in demand

Coal has surpassed gas in powering Britain’s electricity grid this winter according to statistics compiled by energy data specialists, EnAppSys.

Cold weather and the performance of wind power has contributed to the difficulty for gas power operators.

Average output of the UK’s Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) fleet since the start of December 2014 (up to the 18th Jan 2015) has been 32 per cent lower than the average levels of output across July and August, despite overall electricity demand being 22 per cent higher with coal output up 137 per cent between the same periods.

Paul Verrill
Director of EnAppSys Paul Verrill, told Power Engineering International that the past 12 months have been characterised by dramatic seasonal changes in the country’s power markets.

“In the summer CCGT plants were dominant, providing 33 per cent of overall powerà‚ across July and Augustà‚ as gas prices were very low following the oversupply of gas in storage after a very mild preceding winter. In this same period, coal power plants provided only 17 per cent of total generation with most coal units either in outage for maintenance or having to compete against competitively priced gas plants.”

Since then the fortunes of both fuels have dramatically reversed and despite demand being 22 per cent higher in December 2014 and January 2015 so far (against July and August 2014), coal has provided 34 per cent of total generation with the share provided by CCGT plants having fallen to 22 per cent.

“This represents a 137 per cent increase in levels of coal-fired generation and a 32 per cent fall in levels of CCGT fleet generation,” says Verrill. “This has come about as colder weather has led to increased gas prices over the winter period, but has also come as wind farms have increased their output from 2.5 GW in July and August to 5.6GW across December and January so far displacing the less economically competitive CCGT plants and further decreasing the levels of generation achieved at these units.”

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