New records were set for wind generation last week, as storm Abigail swept across the country – it was the first time that wind provided over 20% of the UK’s electricity demand across an entire week, according to our analysis below.
The wind replaced coal, so only 17% of last week’s electricity demand was met from coal. In fact, at one point this morning, the it fell as low as 4%. This is incredibly low by historical standards, and shows coal is increasingly only needed as a back-up fuel. Although they even struggle to act as back-up capacity, because they are so old: 35% of coal power stations were offline earlier this month, which led to National Grid issuing an initial system emergency notification.
A large part of the story is the recent collapse in gas prices. Gas is now cheaper than coal for this winter. This means now renewables is making significant inroads into displacing coal generation, which is leading to twice the CO2 savings compared to displacing gas generation.
What’s more, now storm Barney is sweeping the country this week, National Grid’s forecast suggests new records will be set again. You can track live generation on our free app. Our app is unique in that it includes generation from local wind turbines, whereas most data report only large wind farms.
Coal emissions will fall significantly this year, due to the increase in wind and solar capacity and the fall in electricity demand.
But 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions still came from coal power stations last year. Coal generation across the world will see the biggest fall on record in 2015. With so many ways of generating clean electricity, it seems crazy that in 2015 any electricity comes from coal.
We hope that David Cameron will live up to his promise he made in February, and phase out coal generation for good.