Great Britain heads for record coal-free period during lock down
(in June it was 2 months, now 3 months – the longest period since the 1880s) bit.ly/2CNhrBd
So I checked this National Grid statement on GridWatch gridwatch.co.uk/
GridWatch site provides live figures for every part of the GB energy generation mix, updated every 5 minutes. It includes a breakdown of the types of renewables (bottom row), which (excluding nuclear) add up to the single renewables meter on the top row.
It provides so much other information – if like me you love numbers and graphs, do check GridWatch regularly.
- COAL Zero% True, Britain is rapidly phasing-out coal, BUT
- GAS provides on average 27% of electricity generated, and nowhere in this statement (which attracted a lot of press interest) was the large contribution by gas mentioned.
- NUCLEAR contributes a fairly constant 5 GW day and night and that was not mentioned either!
So, if you do the maths, at 0905 GMT this morning the total amount of electricity we were using was about 26 GW (26 GW or 26 Gigawatt means 26 thousand million watts or about 9 million kettles!)
41% did come from renewables, but 29% came from CO2 producing Gas (Ccgt) power stations, and a constant 20% from our aging Nuclear power stations.
It is very good news that coal is being phased out, because it emits approximately twice as much CO2 as gas, but we have to reduce gas use drastically if we are to come anywhere near net-zero. Just now our Gas power stations were emitting a total of nearly 4000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hour!
Nuclear power stations usually produce electricity for 24 hours every day, because they take so long to shut down or start up, but seven of the eight providing 20% of our electricity were due to shut down in the next 2 to 10 years, but have so many problems that it is now predicted to be sooner. (Guardian 3rd Feb 2019, bit.ly/2EiH5OS) All seven are between 31 and 44 years old and operated by EDF (Électricité de France). EDF is also building the only new Nuclear Power station that has been approved, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, opening now expected to be delayed until 2030.
And of course it is much easier to cut out coal when industrial demand is low because of lockdown