GB CCGT Gas Progress
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Electricity generation in GB using CCGT Gas

One of the cornerstones of reducing emissions and ultimately achieving net zero in GB is rapid reduction in the use of CCGT Gas to generate electricity.

For the last few years CCGT Gas has been the main dispatchable source that has dealt with variations in renewables - notably wind - but with the forecast increase in wind capacity and generation the National Grid ESO has still been expecting CCGT Gas generation to decrease and then become unnecessary.

However, the National Grid ESO's forecasting has been totally at odds with what is actually happening, and the prospects for the elimination of CCGT Gas for electricity generation - and the consequences for emissions - look extremely poor.

The forecasts we use here are contained in the FES documents for the years referred to, and in particular the relevant data workbooks.

The reported performance in each case is from the Elexon site, which is the official reporting source for the GB National Grid.

What's happening in 2023?

In FES2018 the outlook for CCGT Gas generation in 2023 was in the range 31.3TWh to 63.3TWh. FES2019 forecast 42.8TWh in 2023. FES2022 forecast 69.5TWh. These numbers should have been decreasing, of course.

In FES2021 the forecast for 2023 reduced to 35.06TWh. However, FES2022 set the forecast for 2023 to 95.41TWh, a trebling of some earlier forecasts.

The chart shows the latest forecast as a straight line levelised over the year, and cumulative generation over the year against that forecast.

2023 is roughly on target against the much-increased forecast.

What happened in 2022?

Despite consistently exceeding forecasts for generation using CCGT Gas, in FES 2021 National Grid ESO drastically reduced the forecast for 2022 to 34.43TWh. Forecasts for later years were also slashed to much lower figures.

That figure of 34.43TWh was passed on 2 May 2022.

FES 2022 was published on 18 July 2022. Its forecast for 2022 was 55.74TWh, a figure that had already been passed by the day of publication.

The chart shows actual CCGT generation in 2022 and the two forecasts for 2022.

Far from showing a significant reduction in CCGT generation the total for 2022 was 111.2TWh. The total for 2018 was 115.4TWh, so GB has achieved a 4% reduction in the use of CCGT to generate electricity in 4 years.

FES2018 anticipated a 50% reduction by 2022.

GB is not reducing CCGT use enough to achieve net zero on schedule.

What happened in 2021?

Despite what was supposed to be a downward trend in the use of CCGT Gas, in FES 2020 the 5 year forecast for CCGT Gas generation in 2021 was set at the higher figure of 71.02 TWh, whilst the forecast for 2022 was increased from 41.6TWh to 61.08TWh, an increase of almost 50%.

However, the actual total CCGT generation for the year in 2021 was over 107.2TWh. Actual generation reached the forecast 71.02TWh on 28 August 2021.

In 2021 total generation from CCGT Gas for the GB Grid exceeded the total for 2020, although of course part of this can be attributed to the COVID pandemic.

What happened in 2020?

In FES 2019 the 5 year forecast for CCGT Gas generation for the Grid in 2020 was 55.0TWh, with declining generation forecast for later years including 41.6TWh in 2022.

The total generated was almost 95TWh, i.e. almost double the forecast.

The dashed red line in the chart on the right shows the forecast generation using CCGT Gas for the year levelised over the year, i.e. representing how a plot of the generation would look if it were evenly spread over the year.

The blue line shows the actual generation over the year. CCGT generation exceeded forecast throughout the year, achieving the total forecast by National Grid ESO on 16 August 2020.