UK reliance on gas-fired power hits five year high

Within the last week gas generators contributed to more than half of the total electricity supply for the first time since 2011, and analysts predict that this summer the UK’s gas power dependence will climb 26pc above the levels seen last year, reports The Telegraph.

The recent spike in gas use came as wind power petered out and nuclear plants were taken offline for planned maintenance work, resulting in eye-watering prices on the intraday power market.

One gas plant was paid almost £1000 a megawatt by National Grid to help secure supply for the early evening demand pick-up, a market source confirmed.

Last November – during a colder spell – a gas plant was paid £2,500 a megawatt to run.

The trend towards using even some of the oldest and most expensive gas plants in the market is set to continue this year as the UK’s loses six coal plants before next winter, said Point Carbon energy analyst Oliver Sanderson.

“It’s well known that UK gas prices are hovering not far from 7 year lows. This has helped gas return to a position of dominance over coal,” Mr Sanderson said, adding that the UK’s carbon tax, introduced in 2014, has also tipped the balance in favour of gas and accelerated the coal plant shutdowns.

The rise in gas-fired power will bring a “distinct increase in [liquified natural gas] demand to offset declines in UK gas production, as well as imports from both Norway and Netherlands,” he added.

The Government is currently revising its plans to bring forward much needed investment in gas power, after failing in previous capacity auctions.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said earlier this month that the planned changes to the winter capacity auction will provide “a clear signal to investors that will encourage the secure and clean energy sources we need to come forward – such as gas and interconnectors – as part of our long-term plan.”