UK Grid Capacity
By Paul Homewood
With news yesterday that the National Grid had to issue an urgent request for energy companies to make more power available after multiple breakdowns at UK power stations, I thought I would have a look at what capacity there is on the system.
This is what DECC show as at the end of 2014:
|5.6 Plant capacity – United Kingdom||
|All generating companies||
|Conventional steam stations (8)||24,838|
|Combined cycle gas turbine stations||33,784|
|Gas turbines and oil engines||1,787|
|Natural flow (4)||1,567|
|Renewables other than hydro and wind (4)||4,747|
Obviously, we can exclude wind, reducing the figure to 79.4 GW. Solar is included in the Other Renewables number, at, I would estimate, about 1GW, so excluding this would reduce capacity down to about 78.4 GW.
Most of the Conventional Steam figure is coal, about 20 GW, which also includes coal/biomass co-fired.
Of the coal capacity, Longannet and Eggborough are due to close in March 2016, with a combined capacity of 4.2 GW, thus reducing capacity next year to 74.2 GW.
Offsetting this loss will be the new CCGT station at Carrington, with 880 MW, so we are looking at about 75 GW for next year.
Current plans indicate that most of the remaining coal-fired capacity will go by 2023, because of the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive, which supersedes the Large Combustion Directive. Only Rugeley and Ratcliffe have committed to meeting the new standards, although Drax, Ferrybridge and Fiddlers Ferry will continue with some biomass generation.
Best guess is that there will be no more than 10 GW of existing coal capacity remaining by then.
According to the National Grid, they were expecting peak demand of 49 GW yesterday, but were concerned about multiple breakdowns at UK power stations. This shows just how much reserve capacity is needed.
Last winter, which was mild, demand peaked at 53.5 GW in January. However, as recently as February 2012, demand peaked as high as 59.1 GW, and in the following winter, demand frequently exceeded 56 GW.
Might be time to invest in a few of those diesel generators!