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UK Grid Puts Coal Plant On Standby While Ordering Wind Farm to Cut Output

The UK’s electricity system operator, National Grid ESO, has paid a coal-fired power plant to be available for potential power production this weekend, while ordering an offshore wind farm to reduce output, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.  

Temperatures in the UK will rise into the weekend and temperatures overnight will also remain high, “which will make for an uncomfortably warm night for some,” Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist Dan Harris said in the latest weather forecast on Thursday.

As demand for electricity for cooling is expected to rise, the grid operator is taking precautions to ensure grid stability and flexibility with a coal plant on standby. This will be the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired plant operated by Uniper. At the same time, National Grid ESO has ordered the Seagreen offshore wind farm off the east coast of Scotland, one of the largest wind farms in the UK still in the process of commissioning, to produce less electricity.

“It might seem counterintuitive from a carbon budget perspective, but in a cost perspective and maintaining security of supply, it is the optimal solution,” Tom Edwards, a consultant with Cornwall Insight, told Bloomberg.

Coal typically generates less than 1% of Britain’s electricity, or none at all at times of favorable windy and mild weather, but it’s still being used as a back-up to ensure security of supply.

Last autumn, Uniper said it would keep units at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal plant in Nottinghamshire available for longer than previously planned as Europe and the UK were bracing for a difficult winter with energy shortages.

On Tuesday, natural gas produced 28.7% of British electricity, more than the shares of power generation coming from wind - 26.9%, nuclear - 19.5%, imports - 14.4%, solar 4.6%, biomass 4.3%, hydro 1.0%, and coal 0.5%, National Grid ESO said.

In June, as much as 46% of Britain’s power generation came from zero carbon sources, peaking at 80% on June 7 at 10 a.m. local time, per National Grid ESO data.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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