In the UK, the Easter Bank Holiday Monday 2022 set a new record for the lowest national average carbon intensity: 39 grams of CO2 per unit (KWh) of electricity. Behind the average, carbon intensity ranged between 0 and 340 grams of CO2, depending on location and time. So where are the blockers?
Setting a new record for the lowest national average carbon intensity: 39 grams of CO2 per unit (KWh) of electricity was the national average at 13:00 on 5 April.
An exciting achievement and a sign of great progress in the transition to net zero. However, that "national average" figure is just one part of the picture. In fact, the carbon intensity of power ranged between 0 and 340 grams of CO2, depending on location and time of day. We were curious, so we took a deep dive into National Grid's data.
The graph above shows the carbon intensity of power for every half hour on April 5, broken down across 14 network regions in the UK. Evidently, we have a long way to go before 39 grams is the national norm. Let's pick out some highlights:
We need to deploy a mix of technologies to support an affordable and effective transition to net zero: hydrogen, storage, wind, PV, etc. The question is "how much do we need?", "where should these be located?", "how should they be integrated with existing systems?" and - in the case of technologies like batteries - "when should they operate?"
These are complicated questions. And this is where systems modelling can help.
At Advanced Infrastructure, we are developing approaches to modelling scenarios with an emphasis on carbon reduction and emission avoidance. From local energy system retrofits to transmission-level constraint management, such approaches can help accelerate the Energy Transition. Models can help answer questions such as "where to locate" and "when to charge" batteries - in order to maximise the consumption of low-carbon power and avoid increasing demand on the fossil fuel generators that cause the "peaks" in carbon intensity.
Its a tricky balance to cut carbon, minimise cost, and ensure the lights are always kept on! April 5 gave us a snapshot of how far the UK energy system has come - and how much work there is left to do.