Last month I wrote about the IFA outage and suggested that the historic trend of exporting in periods of high UK demand might mean the outage is positive for UK capacity margins.
So far 2017 has seen some significant system tightness, with a number of plants being offline (EDF even has several nuclear reactors out for planned maintenance, as well as an unplanned outage at Dungeness B). The past few days have also seen the weather turn still so there has been little contribution from wind, and of course in January, solar output is always low.
So I was interested to re-visit my earlier analysis on IFA flows to see what was going on there, and shouldn’t really have been surprised given my previous observations to see a lot of exports going on. So far this year, IFA has been in export mode the majority of the time.
This suggests that the IFA outage is benefitting the UK system by restricting the ability for exports to the Continent, particularly in France where nuclear availability is still only 90% despite the re-start of several reactors following mandatory inspections relating to the steel quality issues, and hydro reserves are unusually low. Temperatures are plunging in France and the system operator is taking extraordinary steps to encourage voluntary demand reductions in order to avoid having to curtail industrial users.
The GB power market is currently operating close to capacity, and it is in some ways surprising we have not seen any further CM notices from National Grid. Perhaps the constraint on IFA exports is proving helpful in managing the system after all…