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Earth Notes: GB Grid Intensity RED

Avoid running big appliances at home when the traffic lights are on RED and you'll reduce your carbon footprint!

Grid carbon intensity is high; please do not run big appliances such as a dishwasher or washing machine now if you can postpone
 
 

You might have saved as much as 12% carbon emissions by choosing the best time to run your washing and other major loads.

Latest data is from Mon Sep 01 07:20:00 UTC 2014. This page should be updated every few minutes: use your browser's refresh/reload button if you need to check again.

Follow this grid status on Twitter @EarthOrgUK.

This free service is in BETA and may be unavailable or withdrawn at any time and is provided "as-is" with no warranties of any kind.

This page shows the current "carbon intensity" of the GB National Grid (ie the England/Scotland/Wales portions of the UK electricity grid) as a simple traffic-light indicator. Carbon intensity is a measure of how much greenhouse-house gas (especially CO2 or carbon dioxide) is emitted to generate a fixed amount of electricity.

Anything other than a GREEN light suggests that you should consider deferring heavy loads (eg starting a dishwasher or washing-machine at home) because the carbon intensity is relatively high, or because of other factors. Avoiding running major appliances such as washing/heating/cooking during RED times will save CO2 emissions.

You should still conserve first: don't run things that don't need to be run at all, don't leave things on that can be turned off at the wall, run full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher, etc, etc, before worrying about carbon intensity.

Planning ahead: note that in the UK/GB peak demand for electricity will usually be 4pm to 9pm especially on week days in winter (and a lesser peak around 9am/10am), and peak carbon intensity is often around peak demand, so try to avoid big loads then; if possible run loads such as your dishwasher and washing machine overnight, eg on a delay timer or just as you go to bed.

(Shifting loads to the night when energy is going into grid-scale storage such as pumped hydro, avoids pulling it out when you would otherwise run/dispatch the load, and thus saves round-trip losses of ~25%.)

Technical Stuff

You don't need to understand the numbers below, but some people like to see them!

Effective grid carbon intensity for a domestic user is currently 465gCO2/kWh including transmission and distribution losses of 7%.

Latest available grid generation carbon intensity (ignoring transmission/distribution losses) is approximately 435gCO2/kWh at Mon Sep 01 07:20:00 UTC 2014 over 36089MW of generation, with a rolling average over 24h of 401gCO2/kWh.

Minimum grid generation carbon intensity (ignoring transmission/distribution losses) was approximately 386gCO2/kWh at Mon Sep 01 00:45:00 UTC 2014.

Maximum grid generation carbon intensity (ignoring transmission/distribution losses) was approximately 435gCO2/kWh at Mon Sep 01 07:20:00 UTC 2014.

Average/mean grid generation carbon intensity (ignoring transmission/distribution losses) was approximately 401gCO2/kWh over the sample data set, with an effective end-user intensity including transmission and distribution losses of 429gCO2/kWh.

Recent mean GMT hourly generation intensity gCO2/kWh (average=401); *now (=435)
080910111213141516171819202122230001020304050607*
  • 408
  • 406
  • 404
  • 406
  • 407
  • 407
  • 402
  • 399
  • 397
  • 393
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  • 391
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  • 400
  • 396
  • 390
  • 389
  • 388
  • 390
  • 400
  • 409
  • 414
  • 420
  • 413
Mean GMT hourly generation GW (all, zero-carbon)
  • 28
  • 7
  • 30
  • 7
  • 31
  • 7
  • 31
  • 7
  • 30
  • 7
  • 30
  • 7
  • 30
  • 7
  • 30
  • 7
  • 31
  • 8
  • 32
  • 8
  • 32
  • 8
  • 33
  • 8
  • 32
  • 8
  • 30
  • 8
  • 26
  • 7
  • 24
  • 7
  • 24
  • 7
  • 23
  • 7
  • 23
  • 7
  • 23
  • 7
  • 24
  • 7
  • 27
  • 7
  • 32
  • 7
  • 30
  • 7

Hours that are basically green, but in which there is draw-down from grid-connected storage with its attendant energy losses and also suggesting that little or no excess non-dispatchable generation is available, ie that are marginally green, are shaded olive.

Current/latest fuel mix at Mon Sep 01 07:20:00 UTC 2014: CCGT@14887MW COAL@10232MW INTEW@0MW INTFR@1997MW INTIRL@0MW INTNED@1015MW NPSHYD@390MW NUCLEAR@6164MW OCGT@0MW OIL@0MW OTHER@102MW PS@565MW WIND@737MW.

Current draw-down from storage is 565MW.

Generation by fuel category (may overlap):

fossil @ 70%
25119MW [CCGT, COAL, OCGT, OIL]
import @ 8%
3012MW [INTEW, INTFR, INTIRL, INTNED]
nuclear @ 23%
8161MW [INTFR, NUCLEAR]
renewable @ 3%
1127MW [NPSHYD, WIND]
storage @ 2%
565MW [PS]
zero-carbon @ 20%
7291MW [NPSHYD, NUCLEAR, WIND]

Overall generation intensity (kgCO2/kWh) computed using the following fuel intensities (other fuels/sources are ignored): CCGT=0.36 COAL=0.91 INTEW=0.45 INTFR=0.09 INTIRL=0.45 INTNED=0.55 NPSHYD=0.0 NUCLEAR=0.0 OCGT=0.48 OIL=0.61 OTHER=0.3 WIND=0.0.

Rolling correlation of fuel use against grid intensity (-ve implies that this fuel reduces grid intensity for non-callable sources): CCGT=0.3487 COAL=0.7738 INTFR=0.3820 INTNED=0.3659 NPSHYD=0.1339 NUCLEAR=0.0216 OTHER=-0.6700 WIND=-0.5246.

Key to fuel codes:

CCGT
Combined-Cycle Gas Turbine
INTEW
East-West (Irish) Interconnector
INTFR
French Interconnector
INTIRL
Irish (Moyle) Interconnector
INTNED
Netherlands Interconnector
NPSHYD
Non-Pumped-Storage Hydro
OCGT
Open-Cycle Gas Turbine
OTHER
Other (including biomass)
PS
Pumped Storage Hydro

Methodology

This estimates the the carbon intensity of generation connected to the National Grid GB (Great Britain) high-voltage transmission system, ignoring (pumped) storage and exports but including imports via interconnectors. This excludes 'embedded' generation, eg connected directly to the distribution system, such as small diesels, domestic microgeneration and a significant chunk of wind power, all of which also benefits from reduced transmission/distribution losses, so actual intensity may be somewhat different to (and probably lower than) that reported. However the emissions cost of each marginal/conserved kWh is probably accurately reflected.

This page updated at Mon Sep 01 07:21:27 UTC 2014; generation time 19643ms.

See also:

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Some data used to generate this page is licensed from ELEXON.
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Copyright © Damon Hart-Davis 2010--2013. [home]