With a mean UK temperature of 6.8 °C (1.3 °C above average), March 2019 provisionally came in as the 10th warmest March on record. A number of records were broken including the hottest Easter Monday on record in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In contrast, March 2020 was stormy, but not because of the weather.
The effect on electricity consumption can be seen from the chart, below, with energy usage in the week ended March 5th down by 22% compared with 2019, despite last year being so mild. The pattern of weekly variation with less electricity used at weekends is clear in both years. Note that 2019 dates are offset by two days, so that the days of the week line up. The chart shows a clear reduction in energy generated both during the week and at weekends. How low will our energy use get as the lockdown continues?
The effect on electricity prices has even more dramatic. With generation down by 22%, renewables such as wind and solar are often providing 40% of the daily total generation. Day ahead electricity prices have dropped from around £35/MWh to less £30/MWh. There has been even more variability at a half hour level in the balancing market, with some periods having negative prices.
This is a foretaste of the cleaner but more complex energy landscape of the future. If the renewables industry is to continue its growth, which is required to meet national carbon reduction commitments, then it needs to be part of an energy system with many elements working harmoniously. Renewables, peaking plant, demand management, efficiency improvements, short-term storage, medium-term storage, transmission, interconnectors, electric cars and power-to-gas are all part of the solution. In particular, the energy transition also needs leaders who can think at the level of the complete electricity system to actively shape the vision and the road map to get there. Contact us to talk more about how to maximise the value of wind energy in the energy systems of the future.