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The science of nuclear energy
The science of nuclear energy

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2.1.7 Peak output

Described image
Figure 8 The National Grid

The UK’s National Grid provides information about its status right now on their website. There is a great deal of information on this page and it is updated every ten minutes!

In Activity 1, you are asked to visit the page and gather information.

Activity 1

You will see the total demand in GW or gigawatt. One gigawatt is 1 billion watts. The dials along the top show the proportion from the different energy sources. You should see four:

  • coal
  • nuclear
  • CCGT – the energy source here is natural gas
  • wind.

For each, the number of GW used can be seen on the dial and also underneath. On the left you can see graphs of the demand in GW. The daily, weekly, monthly and yearly demands are shown. The other graphs show more detailed information on how the different sources meet demand over these timescales.

Visit Gridwatch [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

At the time that you looked:

  • What was the total UK demand? How much was supplied by nuclear power stations?
  • When was peak demand that day? Why do you think that was the case?
  • When was peak demand in the previous year? Why do you think that was the case?

Look at the French National Grid. What differences do you notice?

In the next section, you’ll move on to learn more about nuclear power stations.