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UK grid carbon intensity briefly dips to fifth carbon budget levels

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The UK grid’s carbon intensity dipped to within what is required by the fifth carbon budget yesterday as low carbon sources surged to 80% of demand.

Bright but windy conditions, matched with typically lower weekend demand, allowed renewables and low carbon sources to generate a significant percentage of the UK’s power.

MyGridGB, which monitors the sources of British electricity demand, confirmed that at one point yesterday more than 80% of the UK’s power was sourced directly from low carbon generators.

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And National Grid’s control room confirmed in a Tweet sent earlier today that strong solar, wind and nuclear generation was aided by biomass, hydro, pumped storage and imports. This resulted in “record low” carbon intensity of around 90g CO2/kWh.

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That carbon intensity figure falls in line with targets established within the fifth carbon budget, recommended by the Committee on Climate Change in 2015 and legislated for last year by then-energy secretary Amber Rudd. 

The fifth carbon budget has established target carbon emissions of 1,765MT of CO2e for the period 2028 to 2032. This roughly extrapolates to power sector emissions of between 50 and 100g CO2/kWh.

But while that record low of 90g CO2 is within those targets, MyGridGB confirmed that the average emissions for the last seven days equated to around 187g, indicating that there is still work to be done. 

And this is more apparent when it is taken into consideration that weather conditions have been prime for renewables generation of late, resulting in new records for both solar and wider-encompassing renewables generation being set in recent weeks


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