Power Generation Landscape
July 18, 2023
Zach Dodds-Brown, Project Development TFE
The United Kingdom power generation landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, as the country works to reduce its carbon footprint and move towards cleaner forms of energy. Historically, the UK has been heavily reliant on fossil fuels, but this is changing as the government seeks to reach its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Currently, the UK generates electricity through a combination of gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable sources. Natural gas is the largest source of electricity generation, accounting for over 40% of the country’s total electricity output. Coal, once a major source of power, has declined in recent years, and is now responsible for less than 2% of UK electricity generation.
Nuclear power is also a significant source of energy in the UK. There are currently 9 operational nuclear power stations in the UK, with a combined power output of 5.9 gigawatts (GW). This accounts for around 16% of the UK’s electricity generation mix. However, by 2030, two of these stations will be decommissioned, reducing the UK’s nuclear power capacity by 2.2 GW. This will have a significant impact on the generation landscape, as nuclear power is a reliable and low-carbon source of electricity. The UK government is committed to replacing the lost nuclear capacity with new nuclear power stations, but this is a complex and expensive process. We will therefore have to rely on other sources of reliable generation to maintain our security of supply.
Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power are playing an increasingly important role in the UK’s power generation mix. Wind power has been particularly successful, with the UK now home to the largest offshore wind farm in the world. The UK government has set a target of generating 40GW of offshore wind power by 2030. However, the recent cancellation of the Boreas wind farm by Vattenfall shows that this target is at risk of not being met. The Boreas wind farm was due to be a 1.4GW project, but it was cancelled due to high material costs and increased borrowing costs. The cancellation of the Boreas wind farm and potentially others like it will increase the need for reliable sources of generation to meet the growing demand for power. This could mean that the UK will have to rely on more fossil fuels, which would be a setback for the country’s climate change targets.
The UK government has set a target of having 14 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. This would represent a significant increase from the current number of electric vehicles, which is around 1 million. The increased power demand from the grid for charging these vehicles is estimated to be around 30 terawatt-hours (TWh) by 2030. This is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of around 3 million homes.
In conclusion, the UK power generation landscape is evolving rapidly as the country seeks to reduce its carbon emissions and transition towards cleaner forms of energy. However, this transition is not without its challenges. The cancellation of the Boreas wind farm and the increasing demand for electricity from electric vehicles are just two examples of the challenges that the UK faces in meeting its climate change targets.
The UK government has set a target of generating 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. However, renewable sources are intermittent, meaning that they do not always produce electricity when it is needed. This is where gas-fired power stations play a vital role. They are used to fill in the gaps when renewable sources are not producing electricity. The UK needs to invest in more gas-fired power stations if it is to meet its climate change targets. These plants are the most critical technology to support the transition away from coal power plants, and they will be essential for ensuring that the UK has a secure and reliable supply of electricity in the future.
This is why Terra Firma Energy have a diverse portfolio of projects in development, including gas peaking plants, battery energy storage, ground mounted solar and onshore wind. By developing a diverse portfolio of projects, we are helping to ensure that the UK has the energy it needs to meet its climate change targets, while also building a more sustainable energy future. We believe that the best way to achieve net zero emissions is to use a combination of technologies. This will allow us to meet our immediate energy needs while also transitioning to a cleaner future. We are proud to be playing a leading role in this transition, and we are committed to working with our partners to build a more sustainable energy future for the UK.