More energy was generated by the UK’s wind farms than by its nuclear power plants on Tuesday, the National Grid has revealed.
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Over a 24-hour period, wind provided 14.2% of energy while nuclear provided just 13.2%.
This, the energy network operator said, was a result of unusually strong winds and intermittent supply from nuclear plants – with some facilities offline for maintenance and refuelling.
While wind energy’s triumph is expected to be short-lived, it has been a record-breaking period for the sector. On Sunday, wind provided 24% of the UK’s electricity supply for the entire day.
At a new peak record on Saturday, the sector also powered the equivalent of 17 million homes.
“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 Jennifer Webber, director of external affairs at industry trade body RenewableUK.
“As we can expect more of these outages in the future, it’s reassuring to know we have wind filling the energy gap.
“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”
The encouraging news follows the release of a report that calculated global wind power capacity could reach 2,000 gigawatts by 2030, meeting up to 19% of global electricity demand.
A separate leaked EU analysis has also revealed that onshore wind is already the continent’s cheapest energy source. Though the relatively young sector still requires subsidy it proves to be the best value for money, when the ‘external costs’ of fossil fuels are taken into account.
The UK, already a leader in offshore wind, has huge renewable energy potential to exploit. But despite its increasingly impressive credentials, the UK wind energy sector has been targeted by elements of the coalition government in recent months.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has blocked nine out of 10 applications for new wind farms, while uncertainty over government policy has seen the UK slip down clean energy investment attractiveness rankings.
Photo: Janie.hernandez55 via Flickr