The UK is actively responding to climate change and promoting energy transition, and is one of the first countries in the world to specify the medium and long-term emission reduction targets in the form of laws. In recent years, the UK has been raising development targets, promoting the speed of the energy transition process, and proposing initiatives such as strengthening the construction of power grids and improving market construction to promote the consumption of new energy.
New energy development policies continue to improve
New energy has gradually become the main power source in the UK. By the end of 2022, the installed capacity of scenic power generation in the UK was 43.42 million kilowatts, accounting for about 62.8% of the total installed capacity. in 2022, the UK’s scenic power generation capacity was 94.1 billion kilowatt hours, accounting for 28.9% (wind power accounted for 26.8%); gas-fired power generation accounted for about 38.5%, ranking first, nuclear power accounted for 15.5%, and coal-fired power generation accounted for only 1.5%, compared with 43% in 2012. 43%. In April 2017, the UK celebrated its first 24-hour coal-free day since the industrial revolution. in July 2021, the UK announced that it would no longer use coal-fired power from October 1, 2024.
Wind power abandonment rates remain low, and the UK’s installed wind power will grow at an average annual rate of 14% between 2012 and 2020. Although wind power abandonment continues to grow with the rapid growth of installed wind power and generation capacity in the UK, the abandonment rate remains low. The main reason for the abandoned power is the lack of capacity to send electricity from the north to the south. The UK wind power installation is mainly distributed in Scotland, the North Sea and other northern regions, while the load center is mainly concentrated in the southeast. The high cost of grid construction creates transmission bottlenecks. When wind power exceeds transmission capacity, the National Grid pays to shut down wind farms and pays to start alternative generators (usually gas-fired) near load centers.
Low-carbon development targets are increasing. in December 2020, the UK government published its Energy White Paper: Powering our Net Zero Future, which proposed 40 million kilowatts of grid-connected offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2050. in October 2021, the UK government pledged to achieve 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2035, up from the Energy In April 2022, the UK released the UK Energy Security Strategy, which proposes to achieve more than half of renewable energy generation from wind power by 2030, and 50 million kilowatts of grid-connected capacity for offshore wind power, including 5 million kilowatts for new floating; improve grid infrastructure to support the development of onshore wind power, and by 2035, achieve 5-fold increase in photovoltaic grid-connected capacity.
New energy development policies continue to improve. To promote the development of renewable energy, the UK started to implement the Renewable Energy Obligation in 2002, hoping that market competition would lead to the advancement of renewable energy technologies, lower costs, and no bias towards any one technology. Renewable Energy Obligation is a quota policy based on market mechanism, mainly for large renewable energy projects. With the decline in the cost of wind power generation and the development of the electricity market, the UK stopped the Renewable Energy Obligation system in 2017, and the “green card” system, which is a supporting measure, was abolished accordingly, and the policy of Contracts for Difference (CFD) was adopted to determine the price by bidding and flexibly adjust the electricity price subsidy according to the market price. The CFD is designed to give the most effective long-term support for low-carbon electricity, giving investors greater certainty in terms of returns, thereby reducing project financing costs and policy costs.
Multiple initiatives to promote the consumption of new energy
First, strengthen cross-region cross-country interconnection to enhance new energy transmission capacity. The UK attaches great importance to interconnecting with neighboring countries to promote renewable energy consumption and achieve the 2050 net zero emissions target. The UK’s first cross-country interconnection: the UK-France submarine cable project (2 million kilowatts) was commissioned in 1986, and in April 2022, the UK National Grid released the report “An Interconnected Future”. Over the past 10 years, the UK has invested £2.5 billion to strengthen interconnection with neighboring countries; by 2024, the UK will have six cross-sea cable interconnection projects with a capacity of 7.8 million kilowatts with five countries, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. Take the UK-Norway network as an example, when the UK wind power generation is large and the load demand is low, the electricity can be sent to Norway through the North Sea liaison line with a capacity of 1.4 million kilowatts and stored in Norway’s reservoirs in the form of hydropower; when the UK wind power output is low and the load demand is high, clean electricity can be sent from Norway to the UK with a capacity of 1.4 million kilowatts through the North Sea liaison line.
Second, maintain large-scale gas-fired power generation to ensure security of supply. since 2000, the UK’s installed capacity of traditional fossil energy generation has continued to decline, from 70.4 million kilowatts to 44 million kilowatts in 2021, accounting for 42.3% from 75.5%, but its retirement is mainly coal-fired power stations. The installed capacity of gas-fired power plants peaked in 2017 and has remained large after 2018, although it has declined slightly. The high proportion of installed gas-fired power generation in the UK power mix provides electricity security while also providing important regulatory support for new energy consumption.
Third, the introduction of capacity markets to ensure the development of various types of power supply incentives. In order to promote the development of renewable energy and to ensure the adequacy and stability of the installed power supply, the UK introduced a capacity market in the new round of electricity market reform in 2014 to ensure the security of electricity supply by giving economic payments for reliable capacity and ensuring that the market has sufficient capacity in times of electricity supply constraints. The UK capacity market is open to both supply-side and demand-side resources. Electricity consumers with load regulation capabilities can participate in the capacity market as capacity providers by actively regulating their electricity loads and responding to grid load regulation needs on the demand side. The UK National Grid is the operator of the capacity market, and according to the data of grid operation, it sets the standby capacity demand in advance, and regularly auctions the standby capacity demand in advance in the capacity market.
Fourth, the construction of multi-type FM market for new energy. With the rapid growth of new energy generation, in order to relieve the pressure on the voltage and frequency regulation of the system, the UK has introduced several new FM services. National Grid UK introduced fast FM services in October 2020. When the grid frequency deviation (± 0.5 Hz), the grid dispatched the units involved in the service to respond quickly, so as to maintain the grid frequency, the response time is 1 second. In April 2022, National Grid launched two new ancillary services: DR service (DynamicRegulation) and DM service (DynamicModeration), which are responsible for FM services within 0.2 Hz. DR service response time is 10 seconds, DM service response time is 1 second.
Fifth, strengthen the configuration of energy storage to enhance the capacity of new energy consumption. The major development of energy storage in UK utilities started in 2017. 2021 and 2022, most of the energy storage projects completed and put into operation are stand-alone projects of 50,000 kW level, and the first 100,000 kWh energy storage project was put into operation in 2022. Currently, the UK energy storage projects under construction are expected to be put into operation in the next 1.5 years; the number of applications lined up for energy storage projects reached 1,319, with a capacity of 61.5 million kilowatts. The UK government hopes that by accelerating the development of energy storage, it will solve the problem of grid infrastructure lagging behind the development of wind power and provide important support for the national grid during peak demand periods.