The National Grids 2016 Summer Outlook Report highlights the issue of excess capacity over the summer months, due in part to the growth of wind and solar capacity.
National Grid, who are responsible for balancing Britain’s electricity grid, raise the prospect of paying businesses to shift power demand to periods where there is excess capacity and even issuing emergency orders for power plants to switch off.
Plans have been outlined to balance potential fluctuations in electricity demand which is expected to hit a record low of around 35.7GW by offering a new demand-side response scheme to businesses, as generation looks set to reach 67.4GW in capacity in the coming months.
Levels at times could be so low that supply could be exceeded from the output of wind farms, nuclear plants and a core of conventional power plants required for grid flexibility. Inflexible generators may also be issued with emergency orders to reduce output during periods of low demand.
With wind power potentially needing to be ‘curtailed’ during minimum demand periods to help balance the system, the National Grid is now considering demand response as a key component of the UK’s electricity supply chain and will invest £400m into it by 2020. Specifically, the Grid is promoting its Power Responsive initiative to businesses that use large amounts of electricity.
The irony is of course that the National Grid also has to take emergency measures to ensure sufficient capacity during periods of high demand in the winter at a significant subsidy cost.