UK power demand fell to a record low in August and is indicative of a persistent trend since 2010 that has added to the impact of increased renewable power in the country’s system.

Rob Lalor, analyst with EnAppSys, told Power Engineering International that demand has been falling fast since 2010, when overall electricity demand hit its peak.
“This fall has been driven by the closure of intensive industry, increased energy efficiency and increased interconnector flows (now around ~2.5 GW net imports)”

“The implications of this is that since 2010 the overall reduction in generation caused by reduced demand and increased power imports has actually matched growth in renewable generation (both ~6GW vs 2015). This has effectively doubled the impact of renewables upon existing generators. Over this period fossil fuel generation has fallen by almost 50%.”

The combined impact of these two changes has had a major impact upon fossil fuels, says Lalor.

“If renewables, interconnectors and demand reduction were a fuel type, their combined ‘generation’ in 2015 would have exceeded conventional generation at gas-fired power stations.”

“In the future, demand is expected to level out and then potentially rise slightly again if heat and transport becomes electrified; although in the most intensive future scenarios, demand only rises back as high as the 2010 peak. This electrification may, however, be a key step in de-carbonising the whole electricity system.”

The trend explains why despite plant closures, peak demand is dictating that more power plants need to be kept on.

“Coupled with renewables it has transformed the whole electricity system over the past 5 years,” Lalor added.