New UK Wind Energy Records Set

This week it was announced by industry trade body RenewableUK that the month of February 2014 had seen several wind power records being broken.

The announcement followed the publication of electricity generation statistics for February by the National Grid. Despite the high-winds experienced in the UK over the course of February it should be noted that the setting of new records does not simply represent a particularly blustery month but rather the continuation of an upwards trend.

The first record which was broken was the amount of wind power generated in a single month. February saw 2,750,086 MWh (Megawatt hours) of electricity being generated from wind power. This level of generation is enough to power over 6.5 million British homes at a time of year which traditionally sees high power usage and demand. The previous record was set in December 2013 when 2,481,080 MWh of electricity was generated from the wind. Crucially, however, this increase in generation led to an increase in the use of wind power by the UK. In February 2014 11% of the UK’s total power demand was sourced from wind power. In comparison, December 2013 saw 10% of the UK’s total energy demand being sourced from wind. It should be noted that the previous record set in December broke a record set only a few months before. The pace with which such records are being set and broken demonstrates the progress that the UK’s wind industry and companies such as ourselves at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are making.

The record for the amount of wind energy generated in a single day was also broken in February. On the 23rd of that month wind energy met 17% of the country’s total energy demand. Again in this case the previous record was set in December 2013. Additionally a new all-time record was set for the amount for wind energy produced in a single half hour on the 31st of January – a remarkable 6,215 MW.

Of course it should be remembered that the figures released by the National Grid do not represent the full amount of wind energy being generated in the UK. There are a large amount of wind turbines in the UK, particularly within the small to medium scale (the scale at which we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) specialise in) which do not feed power into the National Grid. Such turbines will be supplying power locally or on-site. The owners of such developments are not required to supply real time output data to the National Grid and as such will not have been included in their figures.

It should be noted that UK wind power breaking such records as this is set to become a regular occurrence in the near future as more turbines are consented, constructed and begin to supply power into the National Grid. We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are looking forward to playing our part in this process as more of our developments are completed in the very near future.

The need for secure domestic supplies of electricity and thus lowered reliance on gas and oil imports has been highlighted by recent events in the Ukraine. With much of Europe, including the United Kingdom, increasingly dependent upon Russian hydro-carbons and Eastern European pipelines it is becoming increasingly clear that a renewed push for more renewable energy generation would allow the country more room to maneuver on the international stage as well as protecting consumers from potentially hugely volatile fossil fuel prices. It is worth noting that according to figures recently released by DECC 2013 was the first year in which net imports of gas exceeded UK production.

This point was emphasised by industry trade-body RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith:

“The need to develop a secure, home-grown supply of electricity in a cost-effective way is at the forefront of people’s minds right now, so it’s good to see wind energy consistently ticking all the right boxes, month after month.

“To meet the energy needs of homes and businesses throughout the UK, it’s vital that we keep on harnessing one of Britain’s best natural resources. This makes us less reliant on expensive imported energy from volatile international markets”.

Last week the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published it’s Provisional Energy figures for 2013. The final figures are expected to be published next month.

The provisional figures revealed a surge in the amount of the UK’s energy demand being supplied by low-carbon electricity. Indeed, nearly one third of the country’s entire energy demand in 2013 was met by electricity produced from low-carbon sources such as onshore and offshore wind.  In 2013, 32.7% of the country’s energy needs were met from low-carbon sources. By comparison, in 2012 29.4% of the country’s energy needs came from such sources.

Much of this increase is attributed to the surge in wind capacity and output that the UK underwent in 2013. In 2013 7.7% of total energy demand was met with electricity produced from wind. In 2012 this figure stood at 5.5%. From we can see that the UK’s wind industry increased it’s capacity by 38% year on year. An impressive and encouraging figure.

The UK’s offshore wind industry saw particularly pronounced growth. According to sources at RenewableUK the period from June 2012 to July 2013 saw the completion of four separate major offshore wind developments. During this period offshore capacity increased from 1.86 GW (Gigawatts) to 3.3 GW. An increase of a startling 79%.

Of course the more mature onshore wind industry would find it difficult to replicate such figures but that is not to say that the onshore industry did not experience significant growth of it’s own. 1.29 GW of new capacity was added to the grid over the period June 2012 – July 2013. This was a 25% increase in capacity which now stands at 6.4 GW.

Interestingly, the increases in low-carbon generation were achieved despite a reduction in the amount of electricity produced from hyrdo-stations. Hydro-power generation in 2013 decreased by 1.2% compared to 2012. Many have attributed this drop to low levels of rainfall experienced in areas around some hydro-power plants. This reduction in hydro output only serves to emphasize the great strides made by the UK’s wind industry.

As with the National Grid figures it should be noted that the provisional figures released by DECC will be lower than the actual generation levels. These provisional figures are only produced from data supplied by the major power suppliers and thusly do not include the amounts of electricity produced from the country’s many single turbine and small and medium scale wind farms (such as those developed by Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy)). The final figures published next month are expected to be higher and therefore more accurate.

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK commented on the publication of the provisional figures:

“It’s great to see the way wind power has grown in just one year. Each unit of wind power production means that we’re having to import less foreign fuel – especially gas which is eyewateringly expensive. There has been a steady decline of UK production of traditional energy sources, so we need to make sure there is something replacing that – and wind is increasingly playing that role. Developing our wind resource doesn’t just provide security of energy supply, it also tackles climate change and creates jobs in some of the areas which need them most. It’s crucial that we continue to develop our ability to harness our abundant natural resources to generate clean power.”

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are delighted to have played a part in setting new wind generation records. We also look forward to helping set new records with our already installed turbines and also those of our developments which will have completed construction in the near future.

 

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