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Wind Energy breaks records as it provides over 16GW of power to the grid

image credit: Dyball

It’s official! Wind energy provided over 16 GW of power to the national grid for the first time ever on Sunday 8th December, a big milestone for the renewable form of energy production.

Wind powers to new record

It was certainly blowy on Sunday thanks to a storm sweeping in and was particularly windy between 5 pm and 5.30 pm when nationalgridESO recorded wind generation of 16162 MW. That figure is the highest ever recorded and beats previous records broken throughout the year.

At the time of the record-breaking feat, wind power accounted for 38.5% of all energy provided to the national grid, beating the 18.7% for Gas, 16.3% for Nuclear and 16.3% for imports. Coal, Biomass, Hydro, Storage and other accounted for the period’s energy production. As expected for a cold dark evening, Solar accounted for 0%.

Confirmation of the new record was posted on nationalgridESO's Twitter page

As well as breaking the record at 5 pm, wind power also provided 43.7% of all energy throughout the day.

RenewableUK director of strategic communications Luke Clark said: “This new British clean energy record is a great early Christmas present, and shows just how important wind is in an energy system that’s changing rapidly.

“On a dark cold Sunday when we need it most, wind was providing more than 40% of our power, far more than any other source of electricity.

“Wind energy is at the heart of our modern power system, enabling us to take practical action against dangerous climate change.”

The news is promising and suggests that wind energy production is on the rise and stepping up to the mark, something that will be key if the government is to hit its carbon targets.


Matthew Olney's picture

Thank Matthew for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 10, 2019 5:23 pm GMT

“On a dark cold Sunday when we need it most, wind was providing more than 40% of our power, far more than any other source of electricity.

The complementary nature of solar and wind on display is great to see

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 10, 2019 7:00 pm GMT

Matthew, it will take more than breaking a production record, at an unpredictable time and date, to qualify wind as a reliable source of electricity.

If only Brits could coordinate their work schedules with the wind - to work harder and faster, when the wind is blowing harder and faster - it might slow the wave of natural gas plants popping up all over England:

"Since Britain's first centralized natural gas plant was commissioned in 1991, the fuel, which is less polluting than coal, has become the biggest single contributor to power generation in the UK—accounting for almost 40 percent in 2018."

Sounds like wind has caused Britain to become even more dependent on fossil fuel. Is that a cause for celebration?

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Dec 10, 2019 10:10 pm GMT

As usual Bob the data doesn't back you up.

  1. Coal almost gone from UK and NG falling as well. Stats here.
  2. With coal just about gone - new Wind will displace NG even faster.
  3. Finally, looks like wind generation will pass Nuclear generation in 2019.  



Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 10, 2019 10:51 pm GMT

Thanks for sharing the data, Joe-- I love being able to dig into the raw numbers myself!

And from the looks of it, you're right: coal dropping off precipitously; gas climbed to a peak in 2016 but has since started to fall as wind really ramps up. Even better, looks like overall power needs in the country are slowly dropping-- a great and oft overlooked strategy, while net imports are actually down from previous years, meaning the UK isn't outsourcing their emissions elsewhere. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 11, 2019 1:22 am GMT

Joe, back again with his magic Ouija board, which somehow has a blind spot for gas. Methane. The largest source of electricity in Great Britain, up from 0% in 1990.

Offshore wind was up 28% from last year and it barely scratched gas, down 1%. What does your magic Ouija board say will generate electricity when coal is gone, and the wind isn't blowing? Will it tell you "Within 15 years Shell wants to be the world’s #1 electricity producer! And, they plan to do it by using natural gas as the fuel to create all that electricity."?

Matthew Olney's picture
Matthew Olney on Dec 11, 2019 11:22 am GMT

At 11:00am low-carbon sources were providing 54.2% of GB electricity (wind 28.4%, nuclear 13.5%, biomass 6.4%, solar 4.3%, hydro 1.6%), national demand 43.8 GW *excl. non-renewable distributed generation

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Dec 11, 2019 4:39 pm GMT

Offshore wind was up 28% from last year and it barely scratched gas, down 1%.


Nuclear is down 9 TWh Y-Y and coal is down 7 TWh Y-Y.  

If Nuclear plants could reliably provide electricity in UK then NG would have been down much more.

For example , the Hunterston B plant was only recently restarted after being out of action for a year.

Britain’s nuclear watchdog has agreed to allow one of the country’s oldest nuclear reactors to restart, one year after it was shut down to investigate cracks in its graphite core.

EDF Energy is expected to restart reactor 4 at its 40-year-old Hunterston B nuclear plant on the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire within weeks after the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said the plant was safe.

The regulator will allow the reactor to run for four months after proving that the reactor cores can still fulfil their fundamental safety requirements, despite the cracks in its graphite bricks.

No generation from that plant for a full year - and you say wind is intermittent and unreliable?

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