The UK has seen a huge growth in wind farm installations, with the cumulative offshore and onshore wind installed capacity in the UK in 2016 recorded at 12.1GW, according to Wind Europe’s Wind in Power: 2016 statistics report.
Because of a lack of energy storage, the UK electricity grid is unable to handle the large amounts of intermittent electricity created by renewable sources like wind farms during times of low energy demand. Too much or too little power can throw off the balance of the grid and create problems suppling energy to customers. As the summer months’ approach which typically sees a much less energy used across the country, the National Grid is having to find a way to stop electricity created from wind farms overloading the grid.
The report said that for the last few years both peak and minimum levels of demand on the transmission systems has continued to fall. Actual summer minimum demand
for summer 2016 fell to 16.8GW, or 17.8GW when corrected for weather. The National Grid said it expects this trend to continue this year, with summer minimum demand 500MW lower than the 2016 weather corrected outturn. The peak transmission system demand forecast for high summer is 35.7GW, while the summer minimum is 17.3GW. The minimum available generation is expected to be 38GW in the week commencing 31 July.
As the minimum demands on the transmission system fall, the report said that National Grid anticipates that there “may be times this summer when there is more generation on the system than is needed”. The solution suggested is to “curtail flexible generation” like gas units and large wind farms.
The report added that It may also be necessary to instruct “inflexible generators”, including nuclear power plants and some hydro and wind farms to “reduce their output during these periods of low demand”. This will be done as part of the National Grid’s Demand Turn Up (DTU) Service, which pays large energy users and generators to either increase demand or reduce generation when there is too much energy on the system.
The first concrete has been poured in the construction of Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in more than 20 years. Work has now begun on Hinkley Point C in Somerset, including the building of tunnels to carry cabling and pipes. About 1,600 workers are now onsite to work on the £18bn project, which is due to begin producing power in 2025.
Other progress announced by EDF Energy, which is behind the scheme, includes beginning work on a 500m (1,600 ft) temporary jetty in the Bristol Channel. A store is also being built to contain 57,000 tonnes of aggregate, which can be brought in by sea rather than by road.