Solar output nears 10GW record


Britain’s solar PV set a new generation record this week. Output of 9.68GW at lunchtime on Monday 20 April accounted for nearly 30 per cent of all UK electricity, as reported by National Grid ESO’s preferred source, Sheffield University’s PV Live tracker.

The record comes as UK power demand has slumped amid the Covid-19 shutdown. Three weeks ago National Grid ESO reported grid demand down 10 per cent overall, and up to 18 per cent lower during morning peaks.

Embedded solar and reduced baseload will therefore prove more challenging than usual for the system operator this summer, which requires a minimum draw on the transmission system in order to keep it stable.

Seeking footroom, the ESO this month appealed for information on flexibility potential from businesses and their third party intermediaries. A relaunch of the mothballed Demand Turn Up Service (DTU) may form part of the answer, though the system operator outlined a number of other approaches in its Summer Outlook.

These include buying more frequency response and reserve products, while paying to keep more responsive plant (such as gas) on the system, curtailing renewables and constraining off less flexible plant. It may also ask pumped storage providers to pump water back uphill when demand is lowest.

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