Research from Imperial College London showed that within the first three months of 2023, one third of the UK’s electricity originated from wind farms. Wind turbines were generating 32.4 percent of the country’s electricity, overtaking fossil fuels which generated 31.7 percent.
“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,” Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, who also headed the report, said.
This research was commissioned by Drax Electrical Insights, funded by the Drax energy company. According to CNBC, the company said that wind had “provided the largest share of power in any quarter in the history of the country’s electricity grid” for the first time in England’s history.
Within the country’s energy mix, other sources include:
- Imports (12.6 percent)
- Nuclear (12.5 percent)
- Biomass (5.7 percent)
- Solar (2.3 percent)
- Hydro (1.5 percent)
- Coal (1.3 percent)
Drax also said in a statement that wind-based energy output was three percent higher than that of the first quarter of 2022. On the other hand, gas output fell by five percent.
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The wind farms, located offshore, generated most of the UK’s wind power. Onshore turbines have been restricted since 2015. Companies were only allowed to build onshore turbines on land designated for development, but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agreed in December to ease these restrictions.
One of these fully-operational wind farms is dubbed “Hornsea 2,” which contains 165 wind turbines.
According to Imperial College London’s analysis, wind turbines produced 24 terawatt hours of electricity. That is enough to charge over 300 million Tesla Model Y vehicles.
“The renewable power revolution has transformed how Britain gets its electricity, making our power grid cleaner and greener,” Staffell said.
Scientists also seem to agree that renewable energy is key “to curb the impacts of climate change,” the BBC wrote.
Data from the National Grid also showed a surging rise of solar energy generated in April. This adds to an astounding 42 percent of the UK’s electricity from renewable sources, overtaking the 33 percent from fossil fuels.
On May 22, it was reported that Japanese corporations would invest billions into Britain’s offshore wind industry.
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Going green in Europe
In other parts of Europe, other efforts are being made to shift towards renewable energy. Denmark held the top spot last year, contributing around 55 percent of its wind power to charge up its energy reserves, Euronews wrote. Ireland came in second and the UK was third before its current spot two weeks ago.
Germany, on the other hand, is still leading in terms of installations, though Sweden and Finland are both rivaling the country with onshore wind power.
“Wind power is perhaps the most important technology for Europe’s decarbonisation, in many countries the cheapest and potentially largest domestic source of electricity that can replace volatile imported fossil fuels,” Pawl Czyzak, senior energy and climate data analyst at think tank Ember, said.
“The main lesson I would draw from countries like Denmark, Germany and the UK, is that you have to have a clear and stable strategy and ambitious targets. Then you align all of the other policies and spatial planning and permitting and grid planning etc. towards that,” he added.
Floating wind technology — turbines not fixed to the seabed — have allowed countries like Portugal, Spain and Greece to contribute their windpower. Meanwhile, others like those of Eastern Europe need to be put “on the development map”, Czyzak added.
Despite expectations that the European Union will miss its 2030 goal to generate 45 percent of its energy mix from renewable sources, developments appear promising.