National Grid predicts lowest-ever peak demand thanks to increase in solar power

National Grid predicts lowest-ever peak demand thanks to increase in solar power

National Grid predicts lowest-ever peak demand thanks to increase in solar power

As a growing number of homes and businesses in the UK generate their own power using solar panels, the company responsible for the country's electricity infrastructure has predicted a significant decline in demand in the coming months.

According to National Grid's summer outlook report, published on April 9th and revised on April 13th, the UK's peak demand for on-the-grid power this summer will top out at 37.5 gigawatts - a decrease of around 900 megawatts on last year's reading.

It anticipated the decline based on "the increase in embedded solar photovoltaic (PV) installations" between 2014 and 2015, as well as the fact that availability of natural light during summer means their peak generation capacity coincides with peak demand for power.

This, combined with expectations for further year-on-year increases in the UK's solar capacity, will potentially "lead to a permanent reduction in summer peak demand", the report said.

Between February 2014 and February 2015, the capacity of the country's solar PV installations almost doubled from 2.4 gigawatts to 4.4 gigawatts. National Grid expects this figure to grow significantly again - to 5.5 gigawatts - by February 2016, adding a further 90 megawatts of embedded capacity to the UK's total power generation.

UK solar PV generation 'increased 93% in 2014'

The National Grid summer outlook comes less than a month after new figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showed that the UK's solar PV generation increased by an unprecendented 93 per cent year on year in 2014, reaching 3.9 terawatt hours and driving a 20 per cent surge in renewable generation as a whole.

This meant that solar panels fulfilled an impressive 6.1 per cent of the country's total power requirements for the 12-month period - almost double its 3.8 per cent share in 2013.

According to DECC, over a third (35 per cent) of the electricity used in the UK in 2014 came from renewable sources - an increase of three per cent on the previous year. The contribution of coal, meanwhile, declined by seven percentage points, accounting for just 33.6 per cent of the country's power generation.

The positive figures led Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrobsole to comment: "With the UK and EU well on track to meet its 2020 emissions targets, we should be massively ramping up our ambition ahead of this year's UN climate talks."

Rooftop solar panels 'best way to meet world's power demands sustainably'

Earlier this month, a report out of the US showed that rooftop solar panels are not just one of the most popular methods of renewable generation, but also one of the most effective to meet the world's power demands sustainably.

The study, conducted by scientists at the Carnegie Institute for Science, claimed that solar PV installations built on top of existing infrastructure could generate as much as 15,000 terawatt hours of electricity per year in California alone - enough to fulfil the state's electricity requirements five times over.


Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of Thinkstock