The UK will have too much electricity this summer, and may need to limit the amount of renewable energy it produces, according to the National Grid Summer Outlook Report 2016.
National Grid, which is responsible for managing the UK’s energy supply, suggests the increasing challenge it faces in operating the system during periods of low demand is, in part, due to the ‘intermittent power capacity’ of wind and solar farms. It predicts that the low price of gas will make it the preferred fuel for electricity generation this summer.
National electricity demand is predicted to fall so low that it will be outstripped by supply from renewable sources, and National Grid may be forced to issue emergency orders for power plants to switch off in order to balance the system.
In previous years, supply and demand was balanced by market forces. However, the growth of renewable energy sources, which generate when the wind blows of the sun shines, has had a radical impact on energy generation. By feeding electricity direct to homes and local electricity grids, the solar boom has reduced demand on other sources.
All this points to a desperate need for renewable energy storage in the UK; an essential part of the future of UK energy generation and distribution which will allow us to benefit from clean, green sources while making sure the grid remains balanced.
The report findings
The report presents the view of National Grid on the gas and electricity systems for the summer ahead. It is designed to inform and enable the energy industry to prepare for this summer and beyond. Here’s a roundup of the key points:-
- There will be more than sufficient generation available to meet demand for this summer.
- A fall in electricity demand is expected compared to last year.
- Peak forecast for high summer is 35.7 GW, while summer minimum is 18.1 GW.
- National Grid are exploring new demand side services, which offer opportunities for large energy users, such as businesses, to voluntarily shift their electricity usage in exchange for payment.
- Curtailment instructions to wind farms are likely to increase, as their flexibility enables their output to be reduced during periods of minimum demand.
- The UK benefits from highly diverse and flexible sources of supply gas.
- National Grid are confident that supply will be sufficient to ensure demand is met this summer.
- Oil prices continue to be low.
- Gas demand for electricity generation is anticipated to be high as forward prices indicate gas as the lower-cost fuel for generation.
- Total gas demand for this summer is forecast at 36.5 bcm with an average daily demand of 200 mcm/d.
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