Coal generation is near a five-year low during July & August and weak summer demand due to cooler Midwest & East Coast
Genscape’s proprietary energy monitoring technology shows renewable generation, composed of mainly hydro and wind powered units, averaged just 1,174 GWh per day during August – its lowest daily average since last October and 4% lower than August of 2012.
Month-over-month ERCOT wind generation fell by 19%, or an average of 480 MW less per day. This weaker wind was partially responsible for a 15% increase in prices in the Western Load Zone from July to August. By comparison, ERCOT’s North Hub only increased 1% month-over-month. In MISO, the other region with significant installed wind capacity, generation fell by 11% or 319 MW/day.
Not surprisingly, in the Pacific Northwest, Genscape’s monitored hydro generation was down 24% month-over-month and 26% year-over-year. After above normal temperatures in the beginning of April lead to an early snow melt, Genscape’s Market Intelligence team predicted 2013 would be the second lowest hydro season in the last five years, significantly below 2011 and 2012. This forecast appears to be coming to fruition with Genscape’s monitored hydro generation down 13% year-to-date.
Coal generation also slowed in August, but not because of increased gas-fired generation as seen in 2012. After running above 2012 for most of the winter and spring, coal dropped during July and August nearer to five-year lows as a result of weak overall power demand.
Total August power demand was down 4% from a year ago following a 3% year-over-year drop for July. The weak summer demand has been the result of a much cooler Midwest and East Coast relative to last year, with a near seasonal to cooler widespread pattern prevailing in MISO and PJM in 2013. This is in contrast to the widespread warmer than seasonal pattern of 2012, with most of the above normal temperatures clustered in the Western U.S. (See High Plains Regional Climate Center Current Climate Summary Maps for reference, 2012, 2013) Year to date power demand is now 1% lower than 2012.
Genscape’s Generation Fuel Monitor Report offers daily views of fuel consumption at U.S. power plants for all power sector fuels: coal, gas, hydro, wind, nuclear and oil. Learn more or register for a free trial here: info.genscape.com/generation-fuel-monitor-sept
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