Posted: 6 April 2017
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2017 Summer Outlook Report: The summer ahead

Our 2017 Summer Outlook Report was published on 6 April. It sets out National Grid’s view on the electricity and gas systems for the coming summer and helps the energy industry to prepare. Director of SO Operations Phil Sheppard explains more.

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2017 Summer Outlook Report: The summer ahead

2017 Summer Outlook Report: The summer ahead

The summer months pose interesting challenges as we manage the energy networks.

“For the first time ever recorded, on 25 March, electricity demand in the afternoon was lower than overnight”

Phil Sheppard, Director of SO Operations, National Grid.

Insight:

Total gas demand for this summer is forecast to be 34.0 billion cubic metres.

Source: 2017 Summer Outlook Report.

Each spring we publish our Summer Outlook Report which brings together analysis of the supply and demand picture for both gas and electricity from April through to October.

The summer months pose interesting challenges as we manage the energy networks, particularly in balancing supply and demand at a time when we typically see lower demand than during winter.

The picture for electricity

Phil Sheppard, Director of SO Operations, National Grid.

Over the past few years, we have seen peak and minimum levels of demand on the transmission system fall. We expect this trend to continue in 2017. One important reason is the increasing amount of embedded generation on the system, particularly solar photovoltaic (PV). This generation is not visible to National Grid because it is connected locally rather than directly to the transmission system. As a result, it reduces the demand we see.

Solar is an interesting case in point. For the first time ever recorded, on 25 March the sunny weather caused electricity demand in the afternoon to be lower than overnight. In the report, you can read more about the work we’re doing with partners to improve the way we factor solar generation into our demand forecasts.

Dealing with reduced electricity demand

We expect that during the summer there will be times when there is more generation than needed on the system. We have several options to deal with this. One is to ask generators to come on or off the grid to help keep the system balanced.

We might also use demand side response services. As an example, in February, we completed a tender for the Demand Turn Up (DTU) service which allows large users of energy and small generators to increase demand or reduce their generation in return for a payment when there is excess energy on the system. This excess tends to occur overnight and during weekend afternoons in summer.

We have already procured 138.6 MW of DTU for 2017 and we’ll buy more throughout the summer. You can read more about this in the Operational Toolbox chapter of the report.

What summer holds for gas

Great Britain benefits from diverse and flexible sources of gas supply. Most of our gas will continue to come from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) and Norway. We also believe that deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) onto the system will increase this summer from the very low levels we saw over winter 2016/17.

If we experience normal seasonal conditions, gas demand is expected to be lower than summer 2016. The prime reasons for this are lower demand for gas to generate electricity and for storage injection.

Changes in gas supply patterns

We continue to see variations in the way that gas enters the network and how it is used throughout the day. Historically, demand was met largely by supplies from the UKCS entering the transmission system in the north of Great Britain. Compressor stations were configured to move this gas to where it was needed across the country.

In recent years, we’ve seen more variability in where Great Britain’s gas comes from and how it is consumed. In terms of operating the network, this makes things more unpredictable. We need to manage these variations over the summer, alongside a busy period of maintenance. By working with the industry to effectively share information, we can plan the most efficient and cost-effective network that continues to meet the needs of all of our customers.

Debating the Future of Energy

The 2017 Summer Outlook Report is just one of the documents we publish as System Operator about the Future of Energy. You can find out more about how the energy landscape is changing, and how we’re planning and building networks to meet these evolving requirements on our Future of Energy webpage.

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