19 January 2018

UK storms ahead with new wind power record

The UK’s wind power sector has reached new heights this week by breaking its record for the amount of electricity generated at any one time.

At lunchtime on Tuesday, wind power was generating 13.6 gigawatts (GW), supplying 29% of all electricity in Britain. The previous record was 12.4GW, set in December 2017. By contrast, coal power was producing 2.5GW at the time.

The record is the latest example of the central role that wind power, and renewables, is now playing in the UK’s rapidly changing energy mix. Figures for 2017 show that wind generated 14.6% of electricity, while all low-carbon sources provided a record 50%. Fossil fuels provided 47.7% across the whole year.

Dr Jonathan Marshall, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) commented on the record: “Breaking short-term output records on top of monthly and annual figures clearly shows that wind is now a major part of the UK electricity mix, and will continue to be in the future. Claims that the grid would be unable to handle 5, 10 or 20% wind power have been shown to be well wide of the mark.

The figures were announced by the Drax power company, which compiles official data from the National Grid.

According to industry data, the UK now has 5,700MW of installed offshore wind and over 12,000MW of onshore wind. It is the established world leader in offshore wind, with more capacity than any other country. However, its onshore wind sector has stalled in recent years due to government opposition.

Dr. Marshall highlighted that the UK could generate much more clean electricity from wind power if the government removed the barriers which are hindering new investment in the technology: “Possessing some of the windiest regions in Europe, the UK is poised to lead its peers in wind generation. Analysis has shown a UK resource of nearly 500 terawatt hours per year, more than a third more than current annual power consumption. The government has shown its willingness to install new capacity offshore, but is lagging on onshore wind as other countries move ahead, and as its official advisors call for barriers preventing the cheapest form of electricity generation to be removed”


Image Credit: David Dixon/CC

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