John Fedderson

Record Green Energy Levels Not an Existential Threat to UK Utilities

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — The future is now, or at least it was on Sunday, June 11th in the UK. That’s because on that day, a combination of bright sunshine and blustery winds, along with nuclear generation, managed to provide a full 70% of the electricity being consumed that day. Even more significant, the energy mix produced the required kW-hours of energy while emitting less than 100 grams of CO2 for each one. That’s good enough to meet the ambitious target for the year 2030, whcih pretty well proves it can be done.

The UK has also seen other impressive milestones in the past few months, including a day where solar exceeded nuclear, and one day entirely without burning coal.

Of course, this signifies a big change, and big changes often have winners and losers. In Germany, for example, which took a bold leap into clean energy, there were serious financial impacts to traditional utility providers. Does a similar fate await utilities in the UK? After all, the UK has taken off the gloves, when it comes to renewables, with substantial investments in offshore wind as well as solar, and appears to be closing in on Germany in terms of generation capacity.

There is no doubt that the presence of solar and wind on the grid reduces prices and lowers demand. With variable pricing in place, we have seen moments when electricity prices have gone negative, meaning that power plants have actually had to pay people to use their electricity. This might be great for end users, but it can’t be good for the power plant operators. This has indeed been the German experience.

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