Electricity demand climbs back to pre-COVID levels

UK electricity generation, demand and prices have all climbed back to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to energy data analyst EnAppSys.

Demand in the third quarter totalled 60.6TWh during the period, almost back to the levels of July to September 2019, when there was 63.1TWh of demand, and a significant jump from Q2 2020, when there was just 53.2TWh.

Paul Verrill, director of EnAppSys, said that “during lockdown, the morning demand peak was lower as fewer people went into offices and factories, but as restrictions eased this peak returned beyond levels seen in the corresponding quarter in 2019. The reason for this could be an apparent overlap of business and domestic demand in Q3 2020, as some workers returned to the office and others remained at home.

“As demand rose as lockdown eased, there was less need for the system operator to accept bids to reduce wind output, with accepted wind bid volumes more than halving from 689GWh in Q2 to 318GWh in Q3. This then fed through into the increased wind generation seen in the third quarter versus the previous one.”

Generation levels increased to 64.59TWh in Q3, from 60.28TWh in the preceding three months. This was made up of 40.5 per cent gas-fired generation, while renewable generation made up 39 per cent, nuclear 16.1 per cent, imports 3.9 per cent and coal 0.4 per cent.

It was another record breaking quarter for renewables, generating 25.22TWh. While there were some drops in solar and biomass generation, these were offset by increase in wind and hydro. 

“Renewables along with all other fuel types except CCGT saw a fall in generation from the previous quarter,” continued Verrill. 

The final major metric for electricity also saw improvements compared to the previous quarter, with power prices rising in Q3 along with demand. The average price across the three months was £35.56/MWh, falling just short of £36.56/MWh over the same period in 2019. 

It shows further recovery in the electricity market, rising from £24.98/MWh in Q2 of this year and £29.00/MWh in Q1. 

“Increased demand and less oversupply saw a return to system prices that were, on average, closer to pre-lockdown levels,” concluded Verrill.

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