For first time, UK powered more by wind than gas

Wind turbines produced 32.4% of Britain’s electricity in January, February and March 2023, compared to 31.7% from gas-fired power stations.  

It’s the first time the UK’s electricity grid took its largest share of power from wind.

silhouettes of windmills

These significant findings have been released by Drax Electric Insights in advance of its next full quarterly report. These independent reports are produced by academics at Imperial College London. 

Wind turbines in the UK generated 24TWh of electricity in the first quarter of 2023, a rise of 3% compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, gas output fell by 5%.  

What’s more, nearly 42% of all Britain’s electricity in this period came from renewable sources – wind, solar, biomass and hydro. Just 33% came from fossil fuels, with the remaining 25% from imports and our shrinking nuclear fleet. 

Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London is lead author of the quarterly report. He says: ‘In the space of a decade the UK has almost completely cut out coal, after relying on the most polluting fossil fuel for over a century to power our country.’  

‘There are still many hurdles to reaching a completely fossil fuel-free grid but wind out-supplying gas for the first time is a genuine milestone event and shows what can be achieved when governments create a good environment for investors in clean technology.’ 

Last month, Drax ended the use of coal as fuel for its power station in North Yorkshire. The plant is now the single largest generator of renewable energy in the UK, with four of its generating units have been converted to sustainable biomass. 

The UK now has only one coal-fired power station left.  

Bruce Heppenstall, Plant Director at Drax Power Station, says: ‘This is a remarkable achievement for the UK and it comes at a vital time when cutting the use of foreign gas is critical to our national energy security.’ 

‘The UK must now focus on unlocking investment in carbon-negative technologies, such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). The UK government should accelerate its policy support for BECCS to give this country the best chance of establishing itself as a world leader in carbon removals, attracting further clean energy investment, creating jobs and delivering its net zero targets.’

In related news, the first shared solar park in England is to be built in Devon.

Photo by Zhang Fengsheng.


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