Anyone pushing the virtues of green energy should be celebrating today. 2017 was the “greenest” summer on record. National Grid today released data that shows low carbon green energy sources including wind, solar and biomass, coupled with nuclear, supplied a record level of electricity generation. National Grid said, on average, 52% of electricity was generated from low carbon forms of energy.
Pleasingly, we’ve experienced a huge 56% drop in the carbon intensity of grid electricity since summer 2013. National Grid quotes figures of 491 grams of CO2 per kWh in 2013 to 224 grams of CO2 per kWh in 2017. It’s a genuine win for green energy enthusiasts but this is just the beginning.
The positive news comes only a few months after it was revealed the UK enjoyed its first working day since the Industrial Revolution without the need to access coal-fired power for its energy needs.
This was followed by 25% of the UK’s energy demand met by solar in May and June 7 seeing green energy alternatives to coal-fired power meeting over 50% of the UK’s electricity needs.
The news comes as National Grid launches what it calls a “world’s first”, a new tool to predict carbon intensity and help forecast power potential based on weather data impacting electricity generation from wind and solar. The tool will also be able to advise shifting demand to greener times of the day.
“We’re providing our forecast data in a format that allows technology companies to build innovative apps and software that could make a real difference to how and when people use energy,” said Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid.
“Clear and concise information that can tell you in advance when’s best to turn on the washing machine, load the dishwasher or charge your car for example, is a step in the right direction towards a low carbon future. This technology puts people at the heart of it, helping everyone to use power when it’s greenest, and likely, more cost efficient.”
Working with WWF and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), National Grid envisages the new software helping consumers to better use their energy, finding cost efficient times to charge everything from a phone to an electric vehicle or when to use the ashing machine or dishwasher.
Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy at WWF, called it a “game-changer”. It is now “vital” that time-of-use tariffs are approved for use by government, he adds, suggesting they will enhance our ability to reduce carbon emissions and incentivise the consumer by adding value to their energy product.
This is good news for green energy but bad news for coal-fired power and even the nuclear sector. “Higher renewables output has meant thermal power plants are operated over ever fewer hours,2 said Roshan Patel, an analyst at Investec, to The Daily Telegraph. “In addition, generation with zero marginal cost, such as renewables, also puts downwards pressure on average wholesale prices, affecting all but subsidised renewables.”
Redmond-King said recent green energy successes put further pressure on the government to commit more resources to the sector. “It’s time for the UK government to step up and deliver a strong and ambitious clean growth plan, continuing to support renewables, cleaning up our transport and making our homes more energy efficient.”