UK Carbon Intensity 2020

Thanks to Charlie Mason for this one…

Over the last two days the carbon intensity of the GB grid has averaged 93.7gCO2/kWh, reaching just 75gCO2/kWh at its lowest point at 10pm on Monday night. This is an important step towards the UK’s target of having an annual average carbon intensity below 100 by 2030 and being carbon net-zero by 2050. 

The low level is largely a result of reduced demand (as we highlighted in a previous post due to COVID-19) and a high contribution from renewable generation, due to the widespread sunny and windy weather across the country, which has made up 57% over this period. On top of this, there has been an absence of coal generation which been entirely offline for over 12 days and counting.  

The abundance of renewable generation resulted in the wholesale price of electricity turning negative during both afternoons, bottoming out at £-65/MWh at 4pm on Monday. 

These are great steps towards decarbonising our economy, however they are the low-hanging fruit so it will get more difficult as we progress. Additionally, renewables making up an ever larger share of the generation mix is presenting new challenges such as intermittency of supply (and therefore the need for energy storage) and a lack of inertia traditionally provided by large power stations. These are challenges which @nationalgrideso is working to overcome by introducing new markets to help balance the grid. 

Data sources: www.carbonintensity.org.uk (National Grid ESO), Drax Electric Insights, Gridwatch 

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