2018 saw continued growth in levels of renewable generation, with overall levels of renewable generation within Britain now closing in upon levels of fossil fuelled generation.
Levels of generation from coal and gas-fired power stations produced a combined 130.9TWh against a total of 95.9TWh from renewable sources. Whilst this meant that fossil power plants produced 35.0TWh more than renewable sources, renewable projects also saw levels of generation increase by 12.7TWh, with this impacting levels of conventional power generation.
The increase in levels of renewable generation was primarily driving by a large rise in levels of wind-powered generation as a number of large offshore wind farms commissioned or entered full operation during the year.
2017 Market Review (GB)
2017 saw very strong levels of renewable generation, with this pushing down levels of fossil fuel generation levels, and with this mostly stemming from strong levels of wind generation in the year.
The high levels of wind generation resulted from increased levels of offshore wind capacity and from stormy weather. Whilst 2018 is unlikely to see the same frequency of storms, levels of wind generation are likely to increase once again now that the Western Link interconnector is operational.
2016 Market Review (GB)
2016 saw a continued decline in levels of coal generation and the continued rise of renewables; with combined wind, solar, hydro and biomass providing the second largest source of electricity generation by fuel in 2016, after gas power stations and ahead of nuclear, coal or interconnections.
The GB coal fleet has seen a remarkable reversal in fortunes since 2012, with levels of generation dropping 80% over this period from 136.8TWh in 2012 to 27.9TWh in 2016; with this decline driven by lower gas prices and higher carbon taxes.
These higher carbon taxes hit coal stations harder than gas stations due to their higher carbon emissions and are a UK-only initiative that corrects the underpricing of the EU ETS carbon prices. This initiative has proven very effective in reducing carbon emissions in the UK market and has been the driving force behind the decline of coal in the GB power market.
2015 Market Review (GB)
The GB electricity market has seen a notable shift over the past five years. The formerly dominant fossil fuel stations are seeing reduced levels of activity as levels of power imports from the continent have increased and renewables have generated a greater share of the overall fuel mix.
Back in 2010, fossil fuels (mostly coal and gas) were responsible for 76.4% of overall electricity generation. By 2015, this share of total generation had fallen to 51.1% with total levels of output by fossil fuel generators having fallen by 39%, from 259.8TWh to 158.8TWh.
This has seen a significant erosion of the need for older plants in the market. As ‘within day’ power prices are down 21% since 2013, this has contributed to much lower levels of profitability at new fossil fuel plants.
2014 Market Review (GB)
The notable activity in 2014 saw levels of coal-fired generation fall 23% from the previous year as the overall installed capacity at coal-fired plants fell 10% from 2013 and as gas plants generated at the expense of coal plants in the summer as a result of unusually low gas prices, with coal plants typically having lower generation costs than gas plants.
Offsetting this decrease was a 29% increase in levels of generation at renewable plants with wind farms seeing levels of generation 15% higher than the levels seen in 2013. This coupled with the reduced levels of coal-fired generation meant that carbon emissions were estimated to be 12% lower in 2014 with this representing a further 18% decrease in emissions since 2012.
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