Wind power just overtook gas for the first time in the UK

Wind power overtook gas to become the UK’s main source of electricity in the first quarter of 2023.

That’s a first for the country, which is a world leader for installed offshore wind capacity. However, onshore wind turbine installation has been banned in England since 2015.

According to a report released yesterday by Imperial College London, 32.4% of the UK’s electricity came from wind farms in the first quarter of 2023, compared with 31.7% from natural gas-fired power plants.

The UK’s wind turbines generated 24 TWh of electricity – that’s enough to charge more than 300 million Tesla Model Ys. Output from wind was 3% higher than during the Q1 2022, while gas was down by 5%.

Overall, almost 42% of the UK’s electricity in Q1 2023 came from renewables – wind, solar (2.3%), biomass (5.7%), and hydro (1.5%). Fossil fuels made up 33%, and the rest came from imports (12.6%) and nuclear (12.5%), according to the Drax Electric Insights report by independent Imperial College London researchers:

Dr. Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, lead author of the report, said: 

There are still many hurdles to reaching a completely fossil fuel-free grid, but wind out-supplying gas for the first time is a genuine milestone event, and shows what can be achieved when governments create a good environment for investors in clean technology.

The UK is aiming for all of its electricity to be emissions free by 2035. However, the BBC reported that billions of pounds of solar and wind projects are stuck in a bottleneck to get online, and that’s due to new project volume:

There are currently more than £200bn worth of projects sitting in the connections queue, the BBC has calculated.

Around 40% of them face a connection wait of at least a year, according to National Grid’s own figures. That represents delayed investments worth tens of billions of pounds.

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