electricity pylon national grid power lines

National Grid prepped to accept 100 per cent zero carbon sources by 2025

The operator of the UK’s National Grid has said that it is preparing the system to fully run on carbon-free electricity sources by 2025.

The National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) said it currently relies on a mix of generation to balance the system and ensure that electricity is always available when needed.

“There soon will be times in the year when the market could meet the total demand for electricity through renewable generation only and these periods will increase as more and more renewables are connected and more load actively participates in the market,” ESO said in its Zero Carbon Operation 2025 report

“This is very different to the traditional model of power system operation and, to enable all of this low-carbon generation operate unconstrained, requires us to address and solve some critical engineering challenges.”

It said it would start installing “smart digital systems” which are capable of managing and controlling the electricity system in real-time in order to cope with the fluctuating electricity from renewables.

Renewables are making up an increasing share of Britain’s electricity generation. Energy minister Claire Perry said last month that offshore wind will account for more than 30 per cent of British electricity supply by 2030. 

The changing face of the grid in 2018 saw wind generation exceed 15 gigawatts for the first time - the equivalent output to more than four of the new Hinkley Power nuclear power stations - and no coal used for 72 hours straight.

Concerns have been raised in the past about the amount of renewable power that can be integrated onto the national grid system.

Fintan Slye, director of ESO, said the move would require fundamental changes to how the system is designed to operate, incorporating offshore wind farms, household solar panels and more management of demand.

The company will identify systems, services and products that it will need and design a competitive marketplace to deliver them, Slye said.

He added: “The new products and services we will introduce will help reduce the overall cost of operating the system, driving down costs for consumers.

“Operating a zero-carbon electricity system in 2025, whenever there is sufficient renewable generation, is a major stepping stone to full decarbonisation of the entire electricity system.

“This will enable new technologies and removes barriers to ever-increasing levels of renewables.”

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