As renewables play a greater role in the British market, they are making the price of power increasingly unstable
As the sun shone on millions of solar panels and unseasonable gusts turned thousands of turbine blades last Sunday, something remarkable happened to Britain’s power grid.
For a brief period, a record 70% of the electricity for the UK’s homes and businesses was low-carbon, as nuclear, solar and wind crowded out coal and even gas power stations. That afternoon was a glimpse into the future, of how energy provision will look in 13 years’ time because of binding carbon targets.
On what one grid manager called “stunning Sunday”, the carbon intensity of producing power – a key measure of progress towards climate goals – dropped below the “magic number” of 100g of CO2 per kilowatt hour for the first time. That’s the level that must be the norm by 2030, according to the government’s climate advisers.
Yet last Sunday was just one of a run of striking records for renewable power in Britain that pose profound questions for conventional generators and the companies which manage power grids.
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