Electricity generation from renewable sources hit a record high for any third quarter in Britain in the three months to the end of September, according to a new report by a Teesside-based energy data analyst.
Combined power generated from wind, solar, biomass and hydro stations totalled 26.2TWh in Q3 2023 – the highest ever figure recorded in a third quarter.
This period was also characterised by low demand, fluctuating wholesale prices and a sharp dip in power imports, with Norway surpassing France to become the biggest power exporter into GB during the quarter.
These were the standout highlights of a new report on the GB Q3 2023 electricity market from Stockton-on-Tees-headquartered energy data analyst EnAppSys.
The quarterly renewables record was driven by high levels of wind generation (16.2TWh) and contributed to the lower wholesale prices seen across the quarter. Wholesale prices decreased by 12% in Q3 compared to the previous quarter, with an average day-ahead price of £78.08/MWh in the EPEX auction and £78.36/MWh in Nordpool. This continued a trend of decline that began in Q4 2022 and resulted in the lowest quarterly average seen since Q3 2021.
However, wholesale prices did fluctuate throughout the quarter, due mainly to strong wind output, reduced demand and varying fuel prices. Demand in Q3 totalled 50TWh, the lowest for any Q3 in recent years and a continuation of a trend of decline seen throughout this year.
Interconnector flows contributed net imports of 3.7TWh to GB in Q3, one half of the 7.4TWh recorded in the previous quarter. The decrease was attributed to lower levels of exports flowing in from France, which ensured that Norway became the primary power exporter to Britain in Q3.
Paul Verrill, director of EnAppSys – which is part of the Montel Group – said: “Our report provides further evidence that the country is producing more of its power from clean energy. In Q3, renewable generation increased by 11% compared to Q2 levels and reached the highest level in any Q3 period to date. Wind generation rose by 21% during the quarter to 16.2TWh, the highest for any Q3 since 2020.
“Higher renewable generation contributed to the lower wholesale prices observed in Q3. Wholesale prices decreased by 12% on a quarter-on-quarter basis, with occasional dips into negative price levels early in the quarter due to lower gas prices and high renewable output.
“After July, electricity prices were generally stable with occasional decreases, particularly in late September when wind generation was high. However, there was a notable spike in electricity prices in late August due to an increase in gas prices caused by the announcement of a planned strike action for early September by Australian LNG workers.
“Norway overtook France to become the primary exporter of power into Britain in Q3, delivering 2.6TWh of GB’s total electricity imports during the quarter. This change was primarily attributable to consistently low power prices in the Scandinavian country compared to other GB-bordering countries in Europe. Concurrently, France exported to GB but also imported power from GB on occasions, mainly during periods of high wind generation and very low wholesale prices in GB.”
Renewables generation (wind, biomass, solar and hydro) was the largest contributor to the GB power generation mix during the quarter, accounting for 43% of the total output. Gas-fired generation made up 34% of the total, with nuclear (16%), imports (6%) and coal (1%) accounting for the rest.