Insights / Electric Insights Q1 2024

Electric Insights Q1 2024 – what’s the latest in UK energy generation?

The latest Electric Insights report – relating to the first quarter of 2024 – is now available to download.

It delves into the developments in Britain’s electricity generation during the first three months of the year. Here’s a preview of some of the top stories the Q1 report covers.

Electric Insights Q1 2024 – what’s the latest in UK energy generation? - Hero Image

UK tops global decarbonisation league table

Measuring against historical peak levels, the UK has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by a higher percentage than any of the world’s other 30 largest countries. In February this year, the Government announced that the UK was the first major economy to cut emissions by half.

This bodes pretty well for the UK’s 2050 net zero target: we’re halfway there with nearly 50% of the time left, as 1990’s Kyoto Protocol marked the start point.

However, and as the report explores, topline statistics don’t tell the full story. Other smaller countries have decarbonised faster than the UK – and the rankings don’t cover countries’ imports. Furthermore, the UK’s contribution to emissions since 1850 (the time period that governs today’s global temperatures and extreme weather) is five times higher than its current annual share.

Towards zero carbon electricity

Last year’s energy generation mix was the cleanest on record, and the first quarter of 2024 continued the trend, with emissions staying below 150g/kWh.

National Grid broke its own record for carbon intensity twice at the very start of Q2, with gas and coal only having to satisfy 3% of electricity demand on 15 April.

The system generator will have to make changes to consistently achieve – and potentially improve on – these figures, though. Power stations that use turbine generators (like those in biomass and hydro) synchronised to the grid will be increasingly important to achieve a cleaner generation mix without risk of blackout.

Funding for clean hydrogen

Low-carbon hydrogen will play a crucial role in the future of the UK’s energy system. The Government recognises this, having recently pledged a further £21m of Net Zero Hydrogen Fund support throughout the UK.

This injection takes the Government’s total investment up to £240m as it targets 10GW of low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030. It hopes that both ‘blue’ (high-carbon natural gas with carbon capture and storage) and ‘green’ (split during renewables-powered electrolysis) hydrogen will help decarbonise power, transport and industrial processes.

Wave power on the crest

The Renewables for Subsea Power (RSP) project, operating off the coast of Orkney, is the latest demonstrator to prove the generation potential of wave power.

Britain’s surrounded by waves and the source is less intermittent than wind and solar. So, although existing demonstrations focus on powering specialist applications like marine equipment, experts predict that wave power could one day satisfy up to a sixth of the UK’s electricity demand.

Get the bigger picture

Drax established Electric Insights in 2016 to provide insights into the status of Britain’s electricity. A team of academics at Imperial College London independently delivers the report for objectivity and impartiality. The quarterly outputs help professionals better understand the electricity market and can support decision-making.

Download the latest report now to explore the above – and further – stories, plus get the quarterly capacity and production statistics. Just complete and submit the short form below.

Related articles