Gas picks up coal’s share of generation as renewables output remains flat

Richard Croft/Creative Commons

Power generated from coal fell 60% in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to latest government figures, with gas picking up the slack.

While 5.7GW of new renewable capacity came on stream during the year, output remained flat as average wind speeds dipped below the favourable conditions recorded in 2015, and reduced rainfall affected hydro. A record increase in generation from solar PV (+38%) partially offset those falls, but not fully, due its low load factor (around half that of onshore wind).  Overall, renewables contributed 24.5% to power generation in 2016, fractionally less than in 2015 (24.6%).

Gas use for power generation increased 46%, with its overall share of the power generation mix standing at 42%, up from 29% the previous year. Combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) load factors stood at almost 50% over the year.

The government said the major driver for the switch from coal to gas was the doubling of the carbon price floor from £9 per tonne of CO2 to £18 per tonne of CO2.

Nuclear generation increased 2% year on year due to fewer outages. Generation from bio energy increased 3%, largely due to the conversion of a third unit to biomass at the Drax power station.

Maximum demand for winter 2016/17 occurred between 17:30 and 18:00 on 26 January 2017 and hit 52,909 MW, slightly higher (+0.3%) than the previous year.

DUKES data suggests that equates to 77 per cent of the capacity of major power producers, a 4 percentage point increase on 2015/2016.


Overall electricity demand fell by 0.5 per cent, from 359 TWh in 2015 to 357 TWh in 2016. Industrial consumption fell 1.2%, driven largely by the decline of iron and steel sectors.

The industrial and commercial sectors (I&C) accounted for 47 per cent of total demand for electricity. Households accounted for 30% in 2016.

See the DUKES data here.

Related stories:

Cordi O’Hara: Gas will be central fuel for years to come

Centrica to close Rough, UK’s largest gas storage facility

UK gas demand hits five year high as coal tanks

UK gas and power prices hit two year highs but soften as system copes with winter

UK loses 11.4GW of coal and gas fired generation in three years

As solar generation makes history, National Grid starts to feel the burn

Solar onshore wind and biomass add 4GW to UK generation capacity in 2016

Solar PV hits 12GW, further 3GW in planning

Vattenfall’s 230MW south Wales wind farm hits full power

United Utilities plans £55m solar investment

Weather hits UK renewable generation 

Click here to see if you qualify for a free subscription to the print edition of The Energyst, or to renew.

Follow us at @EnergystMedia. For regular bulletins, sign up for the free newsletter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here