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UK coal power makes resurgence in third quarter

World Coal,

Coal-fired power generation made a resurgence towards the end of the third quarter, with several coal stations coming back online, as highlighted in the latest GB Electricity Market Summary by EnAppSys.

In the three months to 30 September, coal-fired power contributed 7.2 GW (22%) of UK fuel mix, down on the 26% in the second quarter.

The fall was attributed to several coal stations remaining offline during the summer while maintenance work was carried out. However, as the quarter progressed, coal generation picked up again as some units came back online and colder weather triggered a rise in gas prices, which made gas plants less competitive.

Paul Verrill, Director of EnAppSys, commented: “The second quarter had been notable for lower than usual levels of coal-fired generation and higher than usual levels of gas-fired generation, as gas prices fell due to an oversupply of gas and high levels of gas in storage.

“This trend meant that the third quarter began with a high share of electricity generation from gas-fired CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) plants and more modest levels of generation from coal-fired plants, with the low gas prices also contributing to lower than usual power prices.

“As the quarter progressed, gas prices increased due to rising demand fuelled by colder weather and fears that Russia could stop gas flowing into Europe through Ukraine. This made gas plants less competitive and boosted coal’s share of the fuel mix in September.

“By the end of the quarter, the gas and coal-fired fleets were producing similar levels of generation.”

The study showed that gas-fired power stations provided 36% of all of UK power requirements during Q3, while 22% came from coal-fired power stations. Nuclear units provided a further 20%, wind farms 7% and other sources provided the remaining 15%.

The strong performance of gas was attributable to rapidly declining gas prices caused by excess supplies in storage, as well as the temporary closure of reactors at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool nuclear stations following the discovery of unexpected cracks in one of the boilers at Heysham.

Wind had little impact on Britain’s electricity generation during the quarter, providing 7% of the UK fuel mix.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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