UK sets new record for wind power generation

New record of 87.2% also set for share of electricity on grid coming from renewables and nuclear

Britain has set a new record for wind generation as power from onshore and offshore turbines helped boost clean energy supplies late last year.

National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO), which handles Great Britain’s grid, said that a new record for wind generation was set on 30 December, when 20.91 gigawatts (GW) were produced by turbines.

This represented the third time Britain’s fleet of wind turbines set new generation records in 2022. In May, National Grid had to ask some turbines in the west of Scotland to shut down, as the network was unable to store such a large amount of electricity when a then record 19.9GW of power was produced – enough to boil 3.5m kettles.

The ESO said a new record was also set for the share of electricity on the grid coming from zero-carbon sources – renewables and nuclear – which supplied 87.2% of total power. These sources have accounted for about 55% to 59% of power over the past couple of years.

The surge in wind generation represents a remarkable reversal in fortunes as a cold snap that enveloped Britain and Europe quickly turned to milder weather.

Power prices had soared as the freezing weather forced Britons to increase their heating use, pushing up demand for energy despite high bills.

The cold weather came with a period of low wind, reducing the production of Britain’s windfarms to close to zero.

Emergency coal-fired power units at Drax in North Yorkshire were put on standby but ultimately not used, while gas-fired generation accounted for nearly 60% of the UK’s power output at times.

However, milder weather in the UK and Europe in recent days has led to a reduction in demand from consumers and a fall in wholesale gas prices. It has also reduced the risk of power cuts this winter, which National Grid had warned could be a possibility.

Wind generation is seen as a crucial part of Britain’s move towards net zero. The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is expected to overturn a moratorium on new onshore wind projects with a consultation on the matter due to run until March.


Alex Lawson Energy correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
May gales help Britain set record for wind power generation
In early hours of Friday, windfarm turbines provided nearly two-thirds of Britain’s electricity

Julia Kollewe

21, May, 2021 @3:15 PM

Article image
Use excess wind and solar power to produce hydrogen – report
With more electricity often generated than needed the excess could be utilised to generate the green power source

Adam Vaughan

08, May, 2018 @11:01 PM

Article image
Wind forecast upgrade should mean big drop in fossil fuel use
UK's electricity infrastructure controller now knows where the wind will blow next 87% of the time – potentially saving 1.5GW

Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent

25, May, 2011 @12:44 PM

Article image
UK homes can become virtual power plants to avoid outages
A National Grid director sets out plan to reward homes and businesses for using energy outside of peak hours

Fintan Slye

20, Oct, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
Energy firms face inquiry over £1.3bn green power cable
National Grid and Scottish Power project was two years late and has suffered outages

Jillian Ambrose

28, Jan, 2020 @11:55 AM

Article image
Shell and Scottish Power submit plans for floating offshore windfarms
Energy firms hope to produce world’s first large-scale floating turbines in north-east Scotland

Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent

15, Jul, 2021 @11:01 PM

Article image
Windfarms axed as UK loses its taste for turbines

In the first of a three-part series, we look at the political shifts causing investors to doubt Britain's commitment to wind

Juliette Jowit, political correspondent

27, Feb, 2012 @9:48 AM

Article image
British windfarms set new power production record
Official National Grid figures show 43% of Britain’s homes were powered by wind last Sunday

Julia Kollewe

09, Dec, 2014 @5:57 PM

Article image
Wind is not driving the UK towards power blackouts | Chris Goodall and Mark Lynas
Chris Goodall and Mark Lynas: Contrary to what Matt Ridley and the Tory commentariat would have us believe, last week’s grid problems were caused not by a lack of wind but an over-reliance on a small number of fossil fuel suppliers

Chris Goodall and Mark Lynas

12, Nov, 2015 @9:51 AM

Article image
People-power a step closer in energy bill

Government tables amendment that will allow households to sell energy back to national grid

Allegra Stratton, political correspondent

31, Oct, 2008 @12:01 AM