Coal generation gets a run in the UK to ensure supply meets demand

Also worth a short note today to make quick record of a period in the UK when a unit or two from a coal-fired generator’s been called on to run during a period when supply would not otherwise meet demand.

Early this morning (UTC+10) the National Grid Electricity System Operator posted this update:


That followed these earlier notes about warming 4 of the 5 coal units they have retained for winter contingency events like these (e.g. cold with wind lulls):


I also saw this news update from Bloomberg about ‘UK Grid uses back-up coal for first time as cold snap hits’:


Nothing further, at this point.


PS1 article in BBC

There’s more context provided in the article ‘Emergency coal power plants used for first time as UK sees cold snap’ on the BBC.


PS2 more thoughts at Watt Logic

On a similarly titled (but no relation!) energy market commentary site the article ‘A late cold snap delivers an EMN and the tightest day of the winter so far’ was published on 9th March 2023.

On LinkedIn here, Kathryn Porter comments that:

‘We also saw the first use of the coal contingency with both units at West Burton A running. This has gained all the attention (*), but I think the price responses are more interesting and am curious to know why they were so limited…if anyone has thoughts on this, please do share them.’

Yes, we’re guilty as charged (*)

About the Author

Paul McArdle
One of three founders of Global-Roam back in 2000, Paul has been CEO of the company since that time. As an author on WattClarity, Paul's focus has been to help make the electricity market more understandable.

1 Comment on "Coal generation gets a run in the UK to ensure supply meets demand"

  1. You could look at which shows the UK still uses coal most of the time. Technically it still has 4GW connected to the grid but output has not exceeded about 1.6 GW for about 18 months. In 2021 the UK ran for more than 5,000 hours without coal, but even though annual coal share has continued to decline, the period with zero coal have actually fallen over the last couple of years,

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