The Informer

This week’s headlines: wholesale electricity prices fall as Covid-19 leads to lower demand; renewables help the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fall for the seventh year running; the system operator sets out its priorities for the year ahead; renewables demand is outstripping supply in Europe; and the latest Triad dates are revealed.

  • Covid-19 impact sees demand and prices fall

    Electricity demand and prices have fallen sharply as restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic take effect.

    Overall demand is thought to have reduced by around 10% last week in the UK as social distancing measures came into force and many businesses shut down operations.

    Day-ahead electricity prices were down by a similar level compared to the previous week.

    Roisin Quinn, head of National Grid ESO’s Control Room, said the system operator was managing the fall in demand. She said the Coronavirus situation was unprecedented and “moving so quickly that it’s hard to be definitive about the impact.”

    “But there is potential for gas to make up less of the mix of electricity. However it will still need to be called upon by our control room engineers to manage key properties of electricity such as inertia and frequency, so any change may be negligible.”

    SmartestEnergy’s Head of Smart Generation Sales, Angus Widdowson said it was as yet unclear how the pandemic will affect the development of new renewable projects “but we are likely to see delays in the deployment of new wind and solar projects.”

    Meanwhile, work on the Hinkley Point C nuclear site in Somerset is continuing although EDF has halved numbers working on the project to around 2,000.

    However, Energy UK said that the smart-meter rollout has been placed on hold although they will continue to be installed in emergency situations, for example in the event of a fault or if a loss of supply was to occur at a meter.

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  • UK’s emissions fall for seventh year in a row

    The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell for the seventh year in a row in 2019 as renewables again increased their share of generation.

    Provisional data from the Government showed that emissions were down 3.6% from 2018 and by more than 27% from 2010.

    Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the figures highlighted “the extraordinary progress the UK has made in tackling climate change.”

    More than a third (36.9%) of the UK’s electricity was generated by renewable with the figure rising to 37.4% in the last quarter of the year.

    Melanie Onn, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive, said further rapid progress lies ahead: “Low-cost renewables are central to the government’s energy strategy and our sector will grow rapidly in the years ahead, as our domestic supply chain expands and we continue to seize multibillion pound export opportunities around the world.”

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  • System operator sets out 2020/21 priorities

    Steps to minimise balancing costs, make forecasting more accurate and improve the way it facilitates code change are among the priorities set out by system operator National Grid ESO in its latest forward plan.

    The 2020/21 document was developed with stakeholders and Ofgem before the coronavirus outbreak and Fintan Slye, Director of the ESO, said it “will be constantly reviewing its plans.”

    Slye said the scope, timing and approach to delivering the plan commitments may need to change so that the operator can “maintain its focus on operating a secure and reliable electricity system.”

    Meanwhile, the ESO has requested the withdrawal of a modification (CMP332) which would have given effect to the changes to Transmission Network Use of System charges (TNUoS) proposed by Ofgem's Targeted Charging Review.

    It said that “significant issues” have been raised that question the value and impacts of reforms to the transmission demand residual, and that withdrawing the proposal would give further time to consider the issues and implementation timescales.

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  • Renewables demand outstripping supply growth

    Demand for renewable energy across Europe grew at 11.7% last year, outpacing the 3.5% growth in supply, according to new figures.

    The 61TWh increase in demand narrowed “significantly” the surplus between supply and demand, according to the figures produced by the energy certificates organisation the Association of Issuing Bodies.

    Tom Lindberg, Managing Director at energy consultancy firm Ecohz, said: “If the current development extends into 2020, the market will experience a rebalancing. This could have a direct impact on the pricing.”

    The UK is not a member of the AIB’s European Guarantees of Origin (GO) scheme, but instead operates its own Renewable Energy Guarantees Origin (REGO) programme.

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  • Triad dates for Winter 2019/20 revealed

    This winter’s Triad dates have been announced by National Grid ESO, with all three falling before the start of 2020.

    The three highest peaks in demand were on Monday 18 November, 17:00-17:30; Monday 2 December, 17:00-17:30 and Tuesday 17 December, 16:30-17:00.

    The Triad charging system aims to encourage large industrial and commercial energy users to reduce consumption as the periods are used to determine Transmission Network Use of System charges (TNUoS).

    The Triad periods, which are between November and February and have to be separated by at least 10 clear days, are not known in advance which means major energy users must try and avoid all potential peak periods which has the effect of reducing demand throughout winter.

    The Triad mechanism is due to be withdrawn as part of an overhaul of network charging by regulator Ofgem.

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