A particularly blustery December in the UK proved to be beneficial for wind power, as a surge in energy generation saw a number of records broken, official figures have revealed.
In the final month of 2013, a record total of over 2.8m megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity was generated by wind power for the National Grid – enough to power more than 5.7m homes, according to statistics from RenewableUK, a leading renewable energy trade association.
The previous monthly record had been set in October 2013, when wind generated 1.9m MWh, or 8% of the UK’s electricity needs that month.
The week beginning December 16 also saw wind sources generate 783,886 MWh – the highest ever total for a seven-day period.
December 21, the Saturday before Christmas, also saw a record daily amount of electricity produced from wind, reaching 132,812 MWh.
Over the whole month, wind power provided 10% of the UK’s total electricity demand for homes, businesses and factories.
It has been suggested that the surge was partly a welcome effect of the strong winds that battered the UK throughout last month, but also due to an increase in generation capacity over the course of the year.
Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, said the achievement “provides cast-iron proof that the direction of travel away from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable sources is unstoppable.”
He added, “This gives us a great sense of confidence for the year ahead, when we will continue to increase the amount of clean power we generate from wind, onshore and offshore.
“As we do so, we are lessening our dependence on excruciatingly expensive imports of fossil fuels which have driven people’s fuel bills up. British wind energy is providing a better alternative – a stable, secure, cost-effective supply of home-grown power.”
The good news may have come at a crucial time for the industry, as leaders in wind energy urge the UK government to drop its opposition to new EU renewable energy targets in order attract investment in clean energy.
“The EU needs to show leadership here and set a 2030 renewable energy target as a matter of priority”, said Smith.
“It would send a crucial political signal on the continuing direction of travel away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources across Europe. If the EU were to fail to step up to the mark on this, it would be more difficult for renewable energy developers to attract much needed investment in their projects, as it would push up the cost of raising capital.”