Strong winds helped Great Britain’s wind energy fleet break a new generation record last week, as wind power accounted for 59.9% of Britain’s electricity at 1:30am on August 26, according to Great Britain’s Electricity System Operator.
It was a big week for Britain’s wind energy fleet, with a new record set a few days earlier – at 1am on Saturday, August, 22 when Storm Ellen’s strong winds helped generate 59.1% of Britain’s electricity, or 13.5GW, according to National Grid ESO’s Twitter account.
Storm Ellen was promptly followed by Storm Francis, which swept across Britain with record-breaking winds and heavy rainfall. This, in turn, created conditions favourable to breaking the just-set wind record, with strong winds serving up 59.9% of Britain’s electricity at 1:30am on August 26, or around 14.2GW, according to National Grid ESO.
The UK’s Meteorological Office, or Met Office, reported a number of areas across Wales and the Midlands of England were hit by record-high wind speeds for August, with gusts of 68mph (109kph) recorded at Pembrey Sands in south-west Wales, 52mph (84kph) at Shobdon in Herefordshire, and 49mph (79kph) at Pershore in Worcestershire – all of which were August highs for these locations.
The wind was even stronger off the Isle of Wight, with gusts of 73-78mph (117-125kph).
RenewableUK, the UK trade body for wind energy, added more detail to the new record, noting that the rest of the power mix at the time of the record consisted of 18.8% natural gas, 15% nuclear, 3.1 biomass, 2.5% of imports, and 0.7% of hydroelectric and other sources.
The UK – which includes all of Great Britain, as well as Northern Ireland (but, therefore, is not part of the British national grid – boasts 24GW of wind capacity, including 10.4GW of offshore wind and 13.6GW of onshore, and in 2019 provided 20% of UK power.
The UK’s wind energy is expected to grow significantly over the decade, and account for a third of all the UK’s power needs by 2030.
“Renewables are breaking records faster than anyone expected, and this new wind record is a clear signal of the future of our energy system,” said RenewableUK’s Director of Strategic Communications Luke Clark.
“We need to see a huge increase in low carbon power to meet the UK’s net zero target and if we can ramp up low-cost renewables in the short term, that will boost our economic recovery and speed up the switch to low carbon heating, electric vehicle and investment in new technologies like green hydrogen.”
The new wind energy records were set a few days before the latest Drax Electric insights report revealed that renewables increased by 32% year-on-year in the second quarter, and wind and solar set new generation records.
The analysis of British power is conducted by academics from Imperial College London for Drax Electric Insights and showed that the British electricity grid saw its carbon intensity fall to 153g/kWh averaged over the quarter, its lowest on record.
Electricity output from wind, solar, and biomass were each up more than 10% on the same quarter a year earlier, and May was Britain’s first coal-free calendar month since the Industrial Revolution, part of a 67-day run without coal.
“The past few months have given the country a glimpse into the future for our power system, with higher levels of renewable energy and lower demand make for a difficult balancing act,” said Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, and lead author of the quarterly Electric Insights reports.
“To help the country decarbonise further it is vital that flexible technologies which provide power and system stability play an increasing role in our grid.”