National Grid ESO has for the second time this winter requested coal-burning power stations to be put on standby, and is asking suppliers to enact load shifting this evening.
Two of Drax’s two remaining coal-furnaces are reportedly being ‘warmed’ up at Selby today, as is one turbine at EDF’s West Burton plant on the River Trent, following requests yesterday from the nation’s backbone power transmitter.
The requests comply with the winter contingency contract, which the operator sealed last summer with Britain’s last two generators to use coal.
NG-ESO is also engaging retailers to implement load shifting tonight, asking them to pay customers for a second time as much as £3 per kWh foregone to turn down home heat and reschedule other power-intensive applications such as cooking in electric ovens in the hour after 5pm.
The grid first enacted DSR in December, following successful trials of its flexible response offering among 26 licensed suppliers. Uptake then from volunteer households was big enough to avoid extra generation by coal.
Windless skies caused by high pressure stationary over the country for several days are behind the detour back to a possible partial resort to coal. Wind power dropped yesterday to only 6.89 GW, or around 18% of all electricity consumed.
Averaged over all of 2022, wind power accounted for 26.8% of UK consumption. On 10 January this year, British wind farms set a new record, producing 21.69GWh in one day.
“Our forecasts show electricity supply margins are expected to be tighter than normal on Monday evening,” the ESO announced over the weekend.
“We have instructed coal-fired power units to be available to increase electricity supplies should it be needed tomorrow evening.
“This does not mean electricity supplies are at risk and people should not be worried. These are precautionary measures to maintain the buffer of spare capacity we need.”
Today’s hiatus comes as UK generation becomes ever greener. December saw over half of our electricity originating from zero-carbon sources. According to ESO, 30 December saw a new record high, with a peak of 87.2% of electricity coming from zero-carbon sources in one day.