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Storm Ellen Delivers New Wind Power Record

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Lashed by Storm Ellen, the UK hit a new record for wind power generation, with on- and offshore wind farms providing nearly 60% of the country’s power in the early hours of Saturday.

With gusts of up to 95 miles per hour, Storm Ellen powered wind turbines to produce 13.5GW of power at 1 am on Saturday, 22 August, according to grid operator National Grid ESO. That was 59.1% of the UK’s energy mix—a new record. 

The UK’s wind installations have previously generated a greater amount of electricity, hitting a record of 17.129GW on 2 January this year. However, low demand overnight on Saturday enabled wind power to deliver the highest-ever percentage of the country’s power.

The previous record for wind power’s portion of the fuel mix was set in February during Storm Ciara when wind power generated 56% of the country’s power. Storm Ciara also powered wind turbines to their greatest contribution across an entire day: Saturday 8 February, when wind power accounted for 44.26% of all electricity generated.

These records helped renewables overtake fossil fuels for generation in the first quarter of the year, with renewables supplying 40% of the country’s electricity and gas and coal producing 33%. In February, the windiest on record, wind power alone nearly overtook gas plants for generation, 30.5% to 30.6%.

Renewables generated a third of the UK’s power last year. Increased renewables capacity, favourable conditions for wind and solar power and low demand due to the coronavirus lockdown mean renewables’ contribution will likely be even greater this year.

Meanwhile, the cost of renewables has fallen and will continue to tumble in the coming decades. Revised forecasts from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy predict that solar installations will be delivered for £44 per megawatt-hours (MWh) by 2025, onshore wind for £46/MWh and offshore wind for £57/MWh.

With the UK now being battered by Storm Francis, the record reached Saturday may not stand long. Drax’s Electric Insights platform said that wind contributed more than 60% of the country’s power at 2 am on Wednesday morning when demand was 24GW, a figure National Grid has yet to confirm.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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