electricity grid power network towers pylons

Electricity grid will be able to cope with higher demand this summer, operator says

The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has said it is confident that the UK will produce enough electricity to meet demand this summer, despite an expected increase compared to last year.

Peak electricity demand is expected to be 32 gigawatts (GW), up 500 megawatts (MW) from last summer which compares to about 50GW in winter months.

Minimum electricity demand is forecast to be 17.2GW, which is not as low as last summer's 16.2GW, a figure largely driven by Covid-19 restrictions. These restrictions are not anticipated to still be in place by this summer.

However, ESO still anticipates some reduced demand from Covid-19 despite the relaxations, as many people are expected to continue some degree of homeworking combined with dampened summer tourism.

Minimum demand could go as low as 14.7GW under 1-in-10 year weather conditions and assuming higher Covid-19 impacts.

The ESO produces a summer outlook annually in order to provide some forecasting for the energy sector. It has to contend with numerous different operating conditions over the year, as electricity use changes depending on the hours of daylight and the air temperature.

ESO said it had spent the last 12 months working to ensure it wouldn’t need to take the same actions it took last year, such as bilateral contracts with specific generators.

Fintan Slye, ESO director, said: “Managing low demand is one of the most complex scenarios our control rooms have to face and can require a greater number of actions to safeguard security of supply.

“​We believe that we have the right tools and services available to manage system operability for the summer, including services introduced last summer such as ODFM and Dynamic Containment.”

National Grid has also published its summer outlook for gas. It forecasts summer gas demand at 32.4 billion cubic metres (bcm), slightly lower than last year's 32.5bcm, owing to a reduction in gas-fired electricity generation.

“While there remains a degree of uncertainty around Covid-19 and the associated impact on demand, summer 2021 is not expected to be as operationally challenging as spring/summer 2020 and we expect that the necessary tools will be in place to enable safe, reliable, efficient system operation,” the ESO said.

On Tuesday, it emerged that the amount of carbon dioxide generated by the electricity network fell to historic lows on Bank Holiday Monday.

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