Following the closure of a number of nuclear reactors and a fire at the Didcot B power station in the UK, questions have arisen over energy supply. With wind accounting for more than 24% of the power share in the UK, there is confidence wind energy can easily fill a future supply gap.
The UK’s wind industry is celebrating today as it emerged that the sector yesterday set a new electricity share record of 24 per cent.
According to official figures, wind accounted for 24 per cent of the UK’s power share over the course of the entire day, beating the previous generation share record of 22 per cent, which was set in August.
Wind power also set a new peak generation record of 7,998 megawatts (MW) over a half-hour period at midday on Saturday once local turbines are accounted for. Trade association RenewableUK said the peak output was equivalent to the power needed for 17 million homes.
The figures from National Grid also show that wind power outperformed nuclear power throughout the whole weekend and into Monday morning, and allowed a number of coal power plants to be taken offline.
The latest record comes as the government faces questions over the tightness of energy supply margins this winter, following the closure of a number of nuclear reactors and the fire last night at Didcot B Power Station.
“This year has seen successive new records for wind generation and this latest evidence shows it’s more than capable of stepping in when traditional sources of generation go offline without warning,” said RenewableUK’s Director of External Affairs Jennifer Webber in a statement. “As we can expect more of these outages in the future, it’s reassuring to know we have wind filling the energy gap.”
The government today insisted there was no risk to power supplies this winter in the wake of the fire at Didcot B Power Station, arguing that other mothballed power plants will be able to come online, while demand management initiatives could serve to reduce peak demand.
Renewables are also expected to play a growing role in meeting energy demand as capacity continues to increase with new projects coming online.
However, critics of the industry have repeatedly argued that wind power cannot be relied upon as a means of meeting UK energy demand, given the extent to which output is determined by the weather.
In response, the industry has argued that wind power’s reliability compares favourably with thermal power plants and that its variable output can be effectively integrated into modern power grids, cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
“Wind power is often used as a convenient whipping boy by political opponents and vested interests; all the while, it’s been quietly powering millions of homes across the UK and providing a robust response to its vocal detractors,” said Webber.