On Christmas Day, children began opening their presents at around 05:00 am in the UK. As the excitement gathered pace, the country’s coal power stations were fired up providing 38% of all the electricity consumed. Nuclear hummed along all day providing a steady 8 GW and 26% of the total. Clean burning natural gas was demoted to third place providing just 14% of the total whilst providing a significant share of the load balancing service. Coal, nuclear and natural gas combined provided 78% of UK electricity on Christmas Day.
Figure 1 UK generation sources, Christmas Day 2014. Data from BM reports via Gridwatch.
The day began quite windy providing about 4.5 GW at the watch night hour but the wind declined steadily as the day progressed to a measly 0.7 GW come bed time as the country enjoyed clear, calm frosty weather. It was a beautiful day here in Aberdeen. Wind provided 8% of the day’s total matched by imports that ran at a steady 2.3 GW for most of the day.
Figure 2 UK electricity generation share, Christmas Day 2014.
I was surprised to see coal so dominant in the market and I am unsure if these numbers reflect pure market forces or whether there may be a gas conservation strategy in play. The imports would undoubtedly be cheap with European industry closed down for the holidays and surplus French nuclear power in abundance. With little wind and an abundance of coal on the UK grid, Christmas Day 2014 can be held up as a shining example of failed UK energy policy.