A surge in solar and wind farms has helped drive down UK energy prices so much that power stations have started paying for some of their electricity to be taken off their hands. On one sunny Sunday this month, May 8, when overall power demand was low and there was a glut of electricity, generators paid more than £30 a megawatt hour as prices briefly went negative, according to the energy data company, Enappsys. On Boxing Day last year, when demand was also low and renewables supplied a third of the country’s electricity, generators paid £73 per MWh to Elexon, the body handling payments in the small but important “balancing” market that grid operators use to fine-tune power supplies. Although negative prices have only occurred sporadically for as little as half an hour at a time, they are expected to become more common as renewable generation grows, eventually feeding into the larger wholesale power market. “This is a phenomenon we’re just going to see more and more of as more and more subsidised renewable generation comes on to the network,” said Julian Leslie, head of electricity network development at National Grid, the UK’s main power transmission company. The UK has about 22 gigawatts of renewable generating capacity, according to National Grid. But demand for power on a weekend can drop to as low as 17GW, boosting the chance of surplus electricity on sunny, windy days.
FT 20th May 2016 read more »