Zero-carbon energy broke raft of British records in 2022
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Great Britain's electricity grid set a number of new low-carbon records in 2022, and it recorded the greenest year for energy generation with the exception of 2020 when the pandemic saw rapid falls in demand.
According to National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), wind power generated over 20GW of electricity for the first time in 2022 and February was the lowest carbon intensity month since records began.
The greenest day on record, with a carbon intensity of just 52gCO2/kWh, occurred last week on 28 December.
Nevertheless, gas continued to play an important role in providing most of the electricity used across Great Britain in 2022, which caused continued pain for consumers due to high wholesale prices in the wake of the Ukraine war.
The share of electricity from wind turbines continued to grow – it provided over 70 per cent of the country’s demand on 30 December, when it reached nearly 21GW of generation.
Over 50 per cent of electricity was generated by zero-carbon sources in the months of February, May, October, November and December.
Over the year as a whole, these sources were responsible for 48.5 per cent of the electricity used, compared to 40 per cent from gas and coal power stations.
The use of coal in the daily energy mix has continued to decline and is now responsible for only 1.5 per cent of generation in 2022.
This demonstrates significant falls achieved over the last decade – in 2012, coal represented 43 per cent of electricity produced.
The UK is planning to close all its coal-fired power plants by 2024 as part of its efforts to meet climate targets.
But in December, National Grid ESO asked Drax – a power plant in Yorkshire – to fire up two of its coal generators in order to hedge against the possibility that energy demand could outstrip supply due to tight gas supplies.
Electricity demand was shown to fluctuate significantly across the year, with demand remaining at its lowest during the summer months, as longer, brighter days reduce the need to light or heat homes.
National Grid Electricity ESO has been in operation since 2019 after Ofgem gave National Grid two years to separate its functions involved in operating the electricity system from the rest of the business.
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