New wind generation peak rounds off record-breaking year for renewables
20 December 2018
Posted by: Rob Norris
RenewableUK is celebrating the festive season by highlighting ten major steps forward in wind and marine energy in 2018 - including a new wind energy generation record achieved on Tuesday. It rounds off a year in which a series of new records were set, consolidating the place of renewables in the UK’s energy mainstream.
A number of key milestones have been reached:
1. National Grid has confirmed a fresh wind energy generation record was set on Tuesday 18th December. Statistics from Drax Electric Insights show that onshore and offshore wind generated 15 gigawatts (GW) for the first time between 11.15am and 12.15pm, supplying 34.7% of Britain’s electricity needs. This beats the previous records of 14.9GW set last month, and 13.8GW in March when the Beast from the East was at its height.
2. A record amount of UK offshore wind capacity was installed in 2018. More than 2GW went operational in UK waters - enough to power over 2,300,000 homes all year round, and nearly double the previous annual record of 1.1GW set in 2012.
3. The world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, Walney Extension (659MW) officially opened off the coast of Cumbria in September, powering nearly 600,000 homes.
4. The opening of Walney Extension meant that the UK hit a historic milestone of 20GW of onshore and offshore wind generation capacity; enough to power over 14 million homes – and cutting carbon emissions by 25 million tonnes a year.
5. The most powerful wind turbines operating anywhere in the world, with a capacity of 8.8MW, are generating at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen Bay, which opened in September.
6. This year the consistently strong popularity rating of onshore wind hit a new high of 76%, and the small proportion of people who oppose it fell to its lowest ever level of just 6%, according to the Government’s own opinion polls.
7. In the marine energy sector, the world’s first commercial-scale tidal stream array, MeyGen in the Pentland Firth went fully operational in April, with a capacity of 6MW.
The world’s most powerful tidal stream turbine, Orbital Marine Power’s 2MW device, set a new record in August by generating over 3GWh of electricity in its first year of testing at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.
8. ScottishPower became the first major energy supplier in the UK to generate 100% of its power from wind in October, having closed all its coal power plants and sold off its gas stations. The company has 40 operational wind farms in the UK, onshore and offshore, with a total capacity of over 2GW.
9. RenewableUK published the first ever report showing the global scale of the offshore wind cables market in October, highlighting opportunities for supply chain companies, many based in the UK, to secure multi-million pounds contracts over the next decade. This provides a tangible example of the scale of the supply chain opportunities offered by wind.
10. RenewableUK launched a new database in November showing the first time that a huge increase in battery storage capacity is set to take place, with many projects sited alongside wind and solar farms. 400 projects are operational or in the pipeline, totalling 8.7GW.
RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Setting a new wind energy generation record in December is a great Christmas gift in an exceptional year for the UK’s world-leading renewable energy industries - we’ve smashed record after record.
“In the years ahead, the electricity system will be smarter and cleaner for people. Like the Ghost of Christmas Future, 2018 has shown us portents of a new type of energy system led by renewables. In the present, we’re celebrating the fact that UK wind and marine energy are keeping the Christmas tree lights on”.
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RenewableUK’s members are building our future energy system, powered by clean electricity. We bring them together to deliver that future faster; a future which is better for industry, billpayers, and the environment. We support over 400 member companies to ensure increasing amounts of renewable electricity are deployed across the UK and access markets to export all over the world. Our members are business leaders, technology innovators, and expert thinkers from right across industry.
We are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year.
More information about records achieved in 2018 is available in RenewableUK’s press releases here