National Grid ESO - summer outlook report 2020 - children with solar panel
Great Britain's monthly electricity stats

Ever wonder how much electricity is generated and used in Great Britain?

September saw a number of talking points around the energy sector, mainly related to rising wholesale prices and the impact on Britain’s power mix.

A combination of factors early in the month – including a period of low wind and the above-mentioned high prices – led to a slightly higher proportion of coal running in the electricity mix than we’ve seen in recent months, and a higher average carbon intensity than last September.

Some of those coal units will have self-dispatched into the market to meet demand; others we instructed on through the balancing mechanism to meet peak demands and secure the system.

We always take actions in economical order rather than based on generation type, so in forming our operating plans each day we’ll select the power sources that will ensure safe operation at lowest cost – and that might include coal if other fuel types (for example gas) are more highly priced.

It’s worth reflecting on why September’s relatively small volume of coal use was such a talking point – it’s because Britain has been so successful in moving away from using fossil fuel generation, with a 66% decrease in emissions since 2013 and a 97% decrease in coal use since 2012 (see graphic).

A temporary uptick in coal use does not mean an end to that trend. Read more about our decarbonisation journey in our recent COP26: Road to Zero Carbon report.

In mid-September the IFA interconnector with France was affected by a fire, which likely had an impact on the proportion of imports in this month’s generation mix.

Despite the incident we were able to continue to operate the system securely, and are taking the impact of the interconnector’s partial unavailability into account for our forthcoming Winter Outlook report – our annual view of electricity supply and demand over winter.

Isabelle Haigh, National Grid ESO

 

 

Isabelle Haigh

Head of National Control

 

 

 

 

What happened in September?

Find out about Great Britain's electricity generation and how much came from sources such as wind, solar and biomass in our monthly snapshot.

Our control room experts continue to balance supply and demand second by second as we move into the autumn months – and you can follow the electricity mix live in our carbon intensity app - available on Google Play Store and The App Store.