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National Grid insists it can cope with record UK solar

National Grid has insisted it can cope with increasing amounts of solar in the UK’s energy mix as the technology set a new generation record last week.

Ideal weather conditions swept the UK last Friday (26 May) and sent solar generation soaring to record highs. The half-hour period from midday saw generation reach 8.7GW – a figure which could yet be revised upward – beating the old record by ~300MW.

That generation was equivalent to just under a quarter (24.3%) of the UK’s total demand at the time with renewables’ share of energy generation only expected to continue to climb as further solar and wind assets are connected.

But National Grid has moved to allay any potential fears that it was not prepared for such high penetration of renewables.

Duncan Burt, who is responsible for control room operations at National Grid, insisted that the operator has “all the tools necessary” to balance supply and demand.

“We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system and as this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important. We have an expert team of forecasters who monitor a range of data, to forecast just how much electricity will be needed over a set period.

“It really is the beginning of a new era, which we are prepared for and excited to play our part,” Burt said.

Earlier this year National Grid had to contend with a UK first when mid-afternoon transmission system demand fell to below that of the night before, an occurrence squared solely at soaring solar generation.

This was followed by National Grid’s summer outlook document which stated that flexible generators such as nuclear faced curtailment this summer to make way for increasing quantities of renewables.

National Grid also has a number of mechanisms in place to procure grid-balancing services, including the demand turn-up scheme which National Grid launched for a second successive summer in March