Electricity generation in Great Britain continued to fall last year – with coal-fired power still providing the dominant share of total energy production. These are the top-line findings of the 2013 GB Electricity Supply & Generation Summary provided by energy market data specialists EnAppSys. Last year the total electricity supplied in GB was 285TWh, a fall of 1.5% from 2012 and 11.5% lower than the pre-recession peak of 322TWh in 2007. This reduction is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 8.7m homes*.
The report says that falling power generation is a direct result of declining electricity consumption in the last six years, a trend driven mainly by the economic slowdown. During 2013 coal-fired power stations continued to be the dominant source of generation, providing 41% of all GB power requirements, whilst combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units provided 26%, nuclear 21% and wind farms a further 6%. Although total levels of electricity generation have fallen since 2010, levels of coal-fired generation have climbed 22% in the same period despite a reduction in coal-fired power stations as older facilities are closed down.
The rise in coal’s share of the country’s power output has been attributed largely to declining activity in gas-fired electricity generation, which is mainly the result of falling coal prices, the collapse of the EU ETS carbon price and rising LNG (liquid natural gas) prices due to amongst other factors, Fukushima. The drivers on coal prices are the reduction in US coal consumption due to gas displacing coal for power generation because of the shale gas boom. The largest increase in electricity generation from a single fuel type has come from wind farms, which produced 48% more electricity in 2013 compared to 2012 – and 405% more than in 2010. This growth enabled wind to provide 6% of total generation last year and 8% of total generation in Q4 2013.
King Coal still reigns supreme over GB power generation