Working towards a sustainable environment

The operating firm for National Grid has claimed that Great Britain’s electricity system can operate as a zero-carbon grid by 2025.

In 2018, ESO provided key services that enabled numerous firsts for the UK electricity system

In 2018, ESO provided key services that enabled numerous firsts for the UK electricity system

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) – a separate entity from the National Grid Group – claims that the emergence and integration of new technologies mean that a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2025 would be feasible.

Outlined in a  ‘Zero carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025‘ report, the ESO claims that new systems, products and services will be put in place over the next six years to support the transition to a decarbonised grid.

Fintan Slye, Director of ESO, said: “Zero carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate; integrating newer technologies right across the system – from large-scale offshore wind to domestic scale solar panels – and increasing demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real-time.

“Operating a zero-carbon electricity system in 2025, whenever there is sufficient renewable generation, is a major stepping stone to full decarbonisation of the entire electricity system; enabling new technologies and removing barriers to ever-increasing levels of renewables.”

Year of growth

In 2018, ESO provided key services that enabled numerous firsts for the UK electricity system. Wind generation exceeded 15GW for the first time, for example, while the country also ran using no coal for 72 consecutive hours in 2018.

The year saw a record-breaking amount of new UK offshore wind capacity installed, while weekly and daily generation records were continuously smashed over a 12-month period.

The latest Government statistics (released last week) revealed that the renewables share of generation reached 33% in 2018, an increase of 3.9% compared to 2017. Overall, low-carbon sources (renewables and nuclear) accounted for 52.8% of total generation in 2018. 

Renewables share of generation for the last quarter of 2018 suggests that renewables could be set for even greater growth in early 2019. Renewables share of generation accounted for 37.1% in Q4 2018, a 7% increase on the same period the year prior.

The decarbonisation of energy and electricity use is being spurred by innovative new projects. This week alone (w/c 1 April) has seen Rolls-Royce partner with robotics and technology firm ABB to develop a new microgrid solution for commercial and industrial applications and Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry launch four smart energy systems pilots.

The first of the schemes is an “Energy Superhub” in Oxford, which will play host to the world’s first transmission-connected 50MW lithium ion and redox-flow hybrid battery systems as well as a network of 320 ground-source heat pumps. The other projects focus on a “local energy marketplace”, Virtual Energy System (VES) in Orkney and a virtual power plant in West Sussex.

Matt Mace