Wind overtook nuclear to become the UK’s second biggest power generator in January.
Independent energy market monitoring specialists, EnAppSys, has released data showing high wind generation of the past few months has propelled wind energy to second from the top in the UK’s energy pecking order.
Average wind generation across January was 8.1GW per settlement period, second to the 16.2GW average of the CCGT fleet and overtaking the nuclear fleet, at 7.0GW. It means wind has overtaken nuclear power in terms of contribution to the country’s electric power.
Since February, the hierarchy of contributions to our fuel mix has been CCGT (gas-fired power), followed by nuclear then wind, with January 2017 the last time that coal-fired power made it into the top three (with an average of 6.3GW, whilst wind was at 4.7GW).
Last month, however, saw a significant change; whilst nuclear generation increased from the 6.7GW in December, the rise in wind generation was greater, moving this fleet up into second place.
According to EnAppSys, this year’s nuclear average was the lowest for a January since the 5.8GW in 2009, with both Sizewell B units offline from November to February and Heysham 1-2 offline from mid-November into early December. Despite this, the two previous Januarys also had averages (7.6GW and 7.4GW, respectively) lower than this January’s wind average.
“Whilst the 8.1GW wind average was exactly half that of the 16.2GW CCGT average, the fact that wind outstripped the nuclear fleet, the archetypal baseload generation, shows that this renewable technology is evolving from intermittency to being able to make a reliable contribution to the nation’s electricity supply,” EnAppSy analyst Katie Fenn stated.
“Some commentators thought that an increase in wind generation on the system would bring an increase in imbalance volumes, as the wind fleet is not controllable in the same way as the thermal fleets. This does not seem to have occurred.”
“Whilst the percentage of settlement periods each month with zero imbalance volumes has generally decreased, the percentage of periods with large positive imbalances e.g. a loss of over 0.5GW generation, has not increased significantly. This may result from fewer large units on the system, with those online the more reliable of the fleets. Also, whilst wind generation is variable, it does not show such dramatic changes as seen from a full thermal unit trip, with wind forecasts now generally able to predict future output accurately,” Fenn added.