UK power sector CO2 hits 14-month high

  • Sunday, February 07, 2021

  • Keywords:UK power sector
[Fellow]The carbon intensity of the UK power sector reached its highest level in over a year in January.


The carbon intensity of the UK power sector reached its highest level in over a year in January, as rising demand coincided with low wind production and restricted nuclear capacity to boost fossil-fuel generation.
The UK power sector produced an average of 211g CO2/kWh in January, up from an average of 178g CO2/kWh in December and 183g CO2/kWh in January last year, data from Imperial College London and UK utility Drax show. This marks the highest average for any month since November 2019.
Power demand in the UK rose to its highest level since January 2020 last month, averaging 35.5GW as colder weather spurred heating use. Minimum temperatures in London turned out on average 2°C below the seasonal norm over the period, dropping as far as 6°C below on a number of occasions.
And while demand levels matched those of the same month last year, wind production was much lower. UK wind farms generated an average of 8GW in January, down from 8.7GW last month and 10.4GW in January 2020.
While unavailability curtailed nuclear output, which averaged just 5.7GW compared with 6.3GW in December and 6.7GW in January 2020. A total of 2.1GW of nuclear capacity at Hinkley B and Dungeness B is off line on long-term outages.
These limitations prompted gas-fired production to ramp up to an average of 14.9GW across the month, up from 13.1GW in December and just 11.2GW in January last year. This took the share of such facilities in the UK generation mix to 40.8pc for the month, their largest since September, when gas burn covered 41pc of UK production.
But the increase in gas-fired generation was itself limited somewhat by capacity restrictions, following the mothballing of 2.3GW of Calon Energy's CCGT capacity after the company went into administration last year.
This allowed some scope for a rise in more carbon-intensive coal-fired output. Such facilities produced an average of 1.6GW in January, up from 0.8GW in December and the highest levels of coal generation in the UK since January last year.
The weather is expected to remain cold in the UK for at least the first half of this month, which will continue to support power demand for heating. Minimum temperatures in London are forecast to turn out on average 2°C below and as much as 6°C below the seasonal norm over the coming fortnight.
But wind levels have picked up so far in February, and are forecast to remain firm over the coming days, which could lower the call on thermal plants to meet this demand. Wind generation has averaged 9.7GW this week, and is predicted to hold at an average of 9.9GW over the next seven days.
And the country's interconnector capacity will be boosted this month, increasing scope for imports that could reduce reliance on domestic thermal generation. Commercial operations began on the 1GW IFA2 cable with France on 22 January, while the 1GW Britned link with the Netherlands, which went off line in December, is expected to return to full capacity on 11 February.
Source: Argusmedia


  • [Editor:kangmingfei]

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