For the millions of Britons working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, it may feel as though their energy use has soared as extra hours working on laptops, video calling and watching television add to their electricity bills. But overall electricity demand in Britain has plunged by up to a fifth since the UK government followed other countries by imposing a lockdown at the end of March. The sharp decline reflects the closure of many businesses and industrial sites forced to shut because of the pandemic. The fall poses a real challenge to a small group of engineers in Wokingham, near Reading in the south of England, who sit in front of large screens monitoring complex charts and data to keep electricity flowing around Britain by balancing supply and demand, second by second. The team at the National Grid Electricity System Operator, the company charged with managing Britain’s grid, have been working harder than ever during the pandemic to keep the system stable and avoid blackouts. Just as interruptions can cause outages, such as the widespread blackout last year, low demand leading to excess supply can destabilise the electricity system and, in an extreme situation, lead to power cuts. National Grid has also agreed a deal with French utility EDF to reduce output from its Sizewell B nuclear plant in Suffolk to help manage lower demand. It has also held discussions with smaller generators during the lockdown about switching off if required. Renewables’ share of overall electricity generation reached a peak of 60.5 per cent at one stage last month, according to National Grid data. Britain’s electricity system is not set up to cope with such high levels of renewable generation, said Paul Verrill, executive director at the energy consultancy EnAppSys, who added that the grid is “stable” at around 50 per cent renewables. The lockdown is also helping engineers at National Grid to prepare for a situation they will face more often in the future as there is even greater emphasis on renewables to reach the government’s 2050 target to reduce emissions to “net zero”.
FT 11th May 2020 read more »
The UK has gone more than 30 days without relying on coal for power, with gas, nuclear and renewables providing enough demand during a period of lower energy demand because of the coronavirus lockdown. As of Sunday morning (10 May), the UK had surpassed 30 days and seven hours without coal-fired power, the nation’s longest stretch ever recorded, as confirmed by the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO).
Edie 11th May 2020 read more »
iNews 10th May 2020 read more »