Storm Pia’s forceful winds have propelled Britain’s windfarms to achieve a ground-breaking clean energy milestone, with wind turbines contributing over 50% of the nation’s electricity. Whilst wind power generation has benefitted from the weather, Storm Pia has disrupted the UK with gusts reaching up to 80mph in northern Britain, causing trees to block rail lines.
According to RenewableUK, a non-profit renewable energy trade association, windfarms generated 21.8 gigawatts (GW) of electricity between 8am and 8:30am on Thursday, as reported by the National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO). This surpasses the previous record of 21.6GW set on January 10th. Wind power accounted for 56% of Britain’s electricity, although it fell short of the record percentage, reaching 69% on November 19th this year.
Dan McGrail, the CEO of RenewableUK, expressed, “setting a new wind energy record is a great achievement to celebrate during this festive period. Wind power is taking centre stage in our modern clean energy mix, strengthening our energy security and keeping Britain powered up at the coldest, darkest time of the year.”
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In a related development, Germany’s RWE has agreed to acquire a significant portfolio of North Sea wind projects from Swedish power company Vattenfall for £963m. This includes the Norfolk Zone, featuring 3 fully consented wind farms—Norfolk Boreas, Norfolk Vanguard West and Norfolk Vanguard East—with a total capacity of 4.2GW, capable of powering 4 million homes.
Meanwhile, Ørsted, a Danish renewable energy firm, has greenlit the Hornsea 3 project off Britain’s coast, slated to be the world’s largest windfarm. With a capacity to power over 3.3 million homes, the project is expected to cost between 70bn-75bn Danish kroner (£8.1bn-£8.7bn) and aims for completion by the end of 2027.
Looking ahead, Dan McGrail emphasised the importance of collaboration between the renewable energy industry and the government in the coming year. He urged ministers to be “ambitious” in setting new parameters for the next summer’s auction in March, aiming to secure a record amount of new renewable energy capacity and create employment opportunities in the sector.
The industry is pushing for greater government support after the September offshore wind auction failed to attract bids due to inadequate consideration of high inflation in developers’ costs, leading to concerns about a shortfall in future renewable energy.