Wind power generation hit a new record for Britain this week as renewables play an increasing role in the energy mix, figures show.
Onshore and offshore wind generated 15 gigawatts of power between 11.15am and 12.15pm on Tuesday, supplying 34.7% of Britain’s electricity needs, figures from Drax Electic Insights confirmed by National Grid show.
Separate figures from the Government show the rising role of renewables, which made up a record third (33.1%) of electricity generation from July to September, up from 30% in the third quarter of 2017.
The increase in renewables pushed low-carbon electricity’s share of generation to a new record of 56% over the three-month period, up from 54% during the same time last year, the Business Department figures show.
The share of power generated by gas fell slightly to 38.6% compared with the previous year, while coal accounted for 2.5% of the mix, down from 2.9% for the third quarter of 2017.
Industry body RenewableUK said a record amount of offshore wind infrastructure was installed in 2018, with more than two gigawatts of capacity becoming operational, enough to power more than 2.3 million homes.
It included the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, Walney Extension, which officially opened off the coast of Cumbria in September, powering nearly 600,000 homes.
With the opening of Walney Extension, the UK hit a historic milestone of 20 gigawatts of onshore and offshore wind generation capacity.
That is enough to power more than 14 million homes throughout the year and cut carbon emissions by 25 million tonnes a year, RenewableUK said.
RenewableUK also revealed there is set to be a huge increase in battery storage, which can store excess electricity generated from green power and release it to the grid when needed, with many projects alongside wind and solar farms.
Some 400 projects are operational or in the pipeline, the industry body said.
Executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Setting a new wind energy generation record in December is a great Christmas gift in an exceptional year for the UK’s world-leading renewable energy industries – we’ve smashed record after record.
“In the years ahead, the electricity system will be smarter and cleaner for people.
“Like the Ghost of Christmas Future, 2018 has shown us portents of a new type of energy system led by renewables.
“In the present, we’re celebrating the fact that UK wind and marine energy are keeping the Christmas tree lights on.”
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “Christmas lights across the UK will be powered by record levels of clean energy over the festive break.
“Today’s figures show how continued investment in new windfarms and clean energy has boosted the amount of electricity generated from low carbon sources to a record 56% over the last quarter.”
Greenpeace UK policy director Dr Doug Parr said: “Solar and wind technologies are powering ahead beating new records for low costs and high production despite unhelpful government interventions.
“Meanwhile, after all the support they’ve received, the fracking industry hasn’t gone much further than drilling a handful of holes in the ground, while the much-touted nuclear renaissance is falling apart one doomed project after the other.
“It’s about time ministers looked again at their energy policy, stopped backing the wrong horse, and gave their full support to clean, affordable, quick-to-build renewable energy.”