The UK’s onshore and offshore wind farms set a new output record yesterday, passing the 10,000MW mark for the first time, according to new figures from National Grid.
The record of 10,104MW was achieved between 2pm and 2.30pm yesterday, as wind farms delivered 23 per cent of Britain’s total electricity demand.
The performance was hailed by trade body RenewableUK as an early “Christmas clean energy bonus”.
“It’s terrific to see wind power smashing another record,” said RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck in a statement. “It shows that wind is playing an increasingly central role as a reliable part of our new modern energy system. As we install more wind power, more records will tumble. This is a Christmas clean energy bonus – not just for the renewable energy sector, but for all of us.”
2016 is poised to see a series of records set for renewable power output and its share of the energy mix, following a surge in solar development earlier in the year and the completion of a number of large scale biomass and wind power projects.
Earlier this year coal was forced off the grid for the first time since the industrial revolution, while the wind industry is confident a series of new records could be set this winter.
Critics of renewable energy have argued the growing reliance on intermittent sources of energy has increased pressure on the grid and pushed up energy bills.
But last month Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said concerns about the impact of intermittent renewables on the grid had been overblown, while progress in deploying smart grid and energy storage systems is expected to further ease pressure on grid operators.
The industry also maintains that the cost of renewables are falling across the board and that onshore wind farms are now the lowest cost form of new energy generation available, matching or even undercutting the cost of new gas plants.
Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy, said the new wind power output record was “a fantastic achievement for wind power and for renewables in the UK”.
“Wind has transformed the way the UK has sourced electricity in recent years, so this is a great cause for celebration,” she said. “This shows that the transition from big old-fashioned power stations to local, decentralised renewable sources is here. The move to a 100 per cent renewable future is possible and definitely within Britain’s grasp.”
However, the industry remains frustrated that while new offshore wind projects are in the pipeline there is currently no clear route to market for new onshore wind farms, following the government’s controversial decision to remove subsidies for the sector and erect additional planning barriers.