Solar to thank for UK grid's lowest-ever peak demand forecast

An increase in reliance on embedded solar PV resources is set to lower the U.K.’s peak summer demand to record levels, forecasts the National Grid.

The U.K.’s transmission system operator has revealed that it estimates peak demand will hit just 37.5 GW this summer, remarking that the growth of distributed solar PV has helped ease the burden on the national grid by around 900 MW since 2014.

Last year, peak demand increased 2 GW on the previous year, but 12 months of surging solar growth across both the utility-scale and residential sectors have served to embed a robust decentralized solar PV network that will alleviate peak strain on the grid.

"It is likely that embedded solar generation will lead to a permanent reduction in summer peak demands," said the National Grid’s summer outlook report.

According to the National Grid, embedded U.K. solar power capacity almost doubled over the past 12 months, rising from 2.4 GW in February 2014 to 4.4 GW this year – this is solar PV capacity that is not connected to the national electricity transmission grid, but does show up on the grid indirectly as reduced demand.

National Grid anticipate that solar’s positive impact will grow again in 2016, when it forecasts that embedded solar PV capacity will grow to 5.5 GW.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed this week that total U.K. solar PV capacity reached 5.2 GW at the end of 2014. A first-quarter surge already in 2015 (to beat the April 1 RO deadline) means that figure is already likely to be a couple of gigawatts higher, and will set solar on course to increase its share of the national energy mix, which in 2014 rose to 1.2% – double the penetration recorded in 2013.