Britain is a net electricity exporter for first time in 44 years

(The Conversation, 13 Jan 2023) Volatile prices in international energy markets sparked unrest throughout 2022, with governments seeking to reduce the impact of unprecedented price increases on their respective economies.

As energy experts focused on how data can be used in the transition to a low-carbon economy, we have closely followed how this volatility has played out in Britain. Full data for the year 2022 is now available and here are a few things we have noticed.

Britain (we talk about Britain and not the UK, as Northern Ireland is part of an integrated Irish electricity grid) saw a 4% drop in electricity demand from 2021 – that’s the third largest year-on-year reduction after 2008 (caused by the shock of the global financial crash) and pandemic-affected 2020. It takes Britain’s overall electricity demand back to values last seen in the 1980s, an 18% reduction from its peak in 2005.

This time two years ago, we stated that COVID lockdowns meant electricity demand would never be so low again. We got it wrong. In fact, 2022 was the lowest year by some margin (2% lower than 2020). We believe the main factors for this drop were the significant increase in prices, the wider media attention on this, and the wider cost of living crisis.

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The Conversation, 13 Jan 2023: Britain is a net electricity exporter for first time in 44 years