UK coal generation halves, reaching ‘record low’

Coal generation in the UK reached a record low in the first quarter of 2016, falling by around 50 per cent on the same period last year, official figures have shown.

Coal-fired plants generated 14.6TWh of electricity in the first three months of this year compared to 29.5TWh in the first quarter of 2015. Coal’s share of overall generation fell from 30.8 per cent to 15.8 per cent.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change attributed the “record low” to plant closures and a “market preference” for gas.

A number of coal-fired plants have closed or exited the main energy market this year – Longannet, Ferrybridge, Eggborough and Rugeley. Fiddler’s Ferry was granted a last minute reprieve after being awarded a black start contract by National Grid.

Gas generation saw a 48 per cent year-on-year increase, rising from 23.7TWh to 35.0TWh. Its share of the generation mix also rose significantly from 24.7 per cent to 37.8 per cent. After a prolonged decline gas prices levelled out at around ten-year lows in the first quarter of this year, according to price reporting firm ICIS.

The closure of Wylfa in Wales at the end of December led a slight decrease in nuclear generation, which dropped from 18.2TWh to 17.3TWh. Its share of the generation mix dropped from 19 per cent to 18.7 per cent.

Overall electricity generation during the period fell by 3.4 per cent from 95.8TWh to 92.5TWh, with renewables’ share of generation rising to more than a quarter.

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