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North East energy market analyst reports wind and solar power renewables record

A sunny start to the summer and high winds earlier this year have helped Britain’s power generation market to hit a new renewables record.

In the second quarter of 2018, 28.1% of the country’s electricity came from renewable energy sources, according to a new report by energy market analyst EnAppSys – a new record and a sharp contrast to the 5.9% posted in Q2 2010.

Although wind speeds are generally lower over the summer months, wind farms continued to provide the largest share of renewables generation in Q2 2018, with 9.5 terawatt hours (TWh) produced. The next highest share of renewable generation came from solar farms (5.2 TWh), which were boosted by the June heatwave and the longer daylight hours in late spring/ early summer.

Gas was once again the main power source, with more than four tenths of overall generation coming from gas-fired plants in Q2 2018. High carbon prices ensured that gas remained more dominant in the market than coal, which produced less than 1 TWh in the quarter – or just 1% of overall power generation.

The second quarter saw 40.7% of electricity generation come from gas-fired power stations, with renewable projects contributing 28.1% and nuclear plants 22.5%. Coal-fired power stations produced 1.3%, while 7.4% came from electricity imports. Of the 28.1% share of renewables generation, almost one half (49.2%) came from wind farms, 27.1% from solar farms, 20.8% from biomass plants and 2.9% from hydro plants.

Paul Verrill, director of EnAppSys, said: “The second quarter of 2018 saw continued progress towards a market increasingly powered by renewables and less influenced by coal. The rise of renewables has been an ongoing trend for some time now and levels of wind generation were very high in the three months to the end of June.

“Over the past 18 months, several new large offshore wind farms – including Burbo Bank Extension, Dudgeon, Galloper, Race Bank, Rampion and Walney Extension – added significant levels of new wind capacity; this has provided momentum for a continued rise in wind generation levels following a slow-down in the construction of onshore wind farms.

“Commodity prices remained high in the quarter, with gas prices generally holding close to the typical values seen during Q1 2018 when they peaked around supply shortages.

“High UK carbon prices have made it more economically viable to generate power from gas plants than coal-fired stations. As a result, interconnectors then encourage more importation of power from higher-polluting power stations on the continent which are not so heavily burdened by carbon taxes.”

Whilst the growth of power generation from renewable sources looks set to continue in the UK, EnAppSys said the market would still need to find ways of filling the power gap when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.

Mr Verrill said: “This is a normal part of adapting to a market increasingly dominated by renewables and as levels of renewables inevitably continue to rise, in order to meet carbon targets, it’s a case of continuing to manage this on-going transition in a responsible manner.”