Coal generation drops to another record low

Coal’s share electricity generation dropped to a record low of just 5.8 per cent in the three months to the end of June, official figures have revealed.

The volume of power generated fell to a mere 4.6TWh – a 71 per cent reduction when compared to the same period last year.

The decline was largely due the closure of the Ferrybridge C and Longannet coal-fired plants and the conversion of one of Drax’s units to run on biomass, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Gas generation took up much of the slack, rising by more than a half to 35.4TWh. Its share of the generation mix grew by around 15 percentage points to more than 45 per cent. Overall demand for gas jumped by 16.4 per cent as a result.

Total renewable capacity reached 32.5GW in the second quarter of 2016 – an increase of 0.3GW on the previous quarter and 3.9GW on the same period last year. Installed capacity eligible for subsidies under the Feed-in Tariff scheme reached more than 5.3GW, growing by 30 per cent year-on-year and accounting for 16 per cent of the total.  

Nevertheless, renewable generation was down slightly at 19.5TWh, “largely due to less favourable weather conditions”. Lower wind speeds meant onshore wind generation fell by almost fifth to 3.9TWh and offshore wind by nearly a tenth to 3.3TWh. A sharp decrease in rainfall meant hydro generation dropped by more than a third to 0.9TWh.

Solar generation rose by a fifth to 3.8TWh following a 29 per cent increase in capacity and biomass generation was up more than 9 per cent at 7.7TWh, mainly because of the Drax conversion. Renewables’ combined share of the generation mix dropped by half a percentage point to just shy of a quarter.

Nuclear generation was also down slightly at 16.7TWh, with share was “broadly unchanged” at 21.3 per cent. Low-carbon sources accounted for 46.2 per cent of all generation during period.

Overall electricity generation was down by 0.3 per cent at 78.3TWh and consumption by 0.6 per cent at 71.0TWh. Domestic demand decreased by 3 per cent to 23.5TWh.

For the twenty-fifth quarter in a row Britain was a net importer of power as interconnectors met 6.4 per cent of all demand over the three months.