Wind power in the United Kingdom set a new record on Sunday generating for the first time more than 16GW of electricity and providing over 40% of the country’s power – so much, in fact, that thousands of households were reportedly paid to use extra renewable electricity over the weekend.
RenewableUK, the country’s wind and marine renewable energy trade body, reported on Monday that the new wind power generation record was set on Sunday evening, with wind generating up to 16.162 GW of electricity, based on figures from National Grid, the UK’s grid operator.
Overall, wind generation on Sunday provided 43.7% of British electricity – more than double that produced by nuclear power (which provided 20.5%): Gas supplied 12.8%, biomass 7.9%, imports 7.4%, coal 3.1%, hydro 1.7%, solar 1.3%, storage 1.1% and other sources 0.5%.
“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,” said RenewableUK’s Director of Strategic Communications Luke Clark.
“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 new record broke one set earlier this year, on February 8 which saw wind energy provide 15.32 GW.
Conditions were so favourable to wind energy generation, in fact, that The Guardian is reporting thousands of British households were paid to use extra renewable electricity over the weekend.
British homes using a new type of smart energy tariff were urged to plug in their electric vehicles or set their dishwasher on a timer to take advantage of record renewable generation in the early hours of the morning.
Duncan Burt, operations director for National Grid’s electricity system operator, thanked households for helping to balance the energy grid by “getting paid to use more energy on a windy night” when there was simply more wind power than needed.
The Guardian also quoted Greg Jackson, the founder of Octopus Energy, a UK electricity and gas supplier, who said that 2,000 homes on its Agile Octopus smart-energy tariff “made money for using energy when the wind was giving us more than enough” – paying 5.6p ($A1.08) for every kilowatt-hour of electricity used in certain overnight periods.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.