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UK sets new national record for wind power production

Britain is 'poised to lead its peers' as it possesses some of the windiest regions in Europe, according to experts

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Wednesday 17 January 2018 15:25 GMT
Transporting power from wind farms in Scotland will help to reduce the overall system cost of wind in the UK
Transporting power from wind farms in Scotland will help to reduce the overall system cost of wind in the UK (Getty)

Output from UK wind farms has topped 10 gigawatts for the first time, setting a new national record.

The news was welcomed by experts, who say it is evidence the UK is “poised to lead its peers in wind generation”.

The record comes shortly after 2017 was declared the “greenest year ever” due to the number of renewable energy records broken.

“Breaking short-term output records on top of monthly and annual figures clearly shows that wind is now a major part of the UK electricity mix, and will continue to be in the future,” said Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

“Claims that the grid would be unable to handle 5, 10 or 20 per cent wind power have been shown to be well wide of the mark.”

According to Dr Marshall, the UK possesses some of the windiest regions in Europe, meaning it is in a position to lead on European wind power generation.

“The opening of new infrastructure to transport power south from the windy hills of Scotland is ramping up – and will help to reduce the whole system cost of wind – while technologies to manage variable output are rapidly becoming cheaper,” he said.

The transition to low-carbon “grids of the future” will bring great value to the UK.

One estimate suggested offshore wind could be worth up to £8 billion annually by 2050.

However, despite clear gains in the contribution of renewables to electricity production, last year also saw a slump of 56 per cent in British green energy investment.

This has sparked worries about the future of renewables in the country, and the ability of the UK to meet its carbon targets.

“This is the second year in a row that renewable energy investment in the UK has nose-dived,” said Mary Creagh, chairwoman of the Commons environmental audit committee.

“Current rates of investment simply won’t deliver enough renewable energy to meet our legally binding carbon reduction targets.”

One of the areas highlighted by experts as requiring investment is onshore wind, which ranks among the cheapest forms of renewable energy.

“The Government has shown its willingness to install new capacity offshore, but is lagging on onshore wind as other countries move ahead, and as its official advisors call for barriers preventing the cheapest form of electricity generation to be removed,” said Dr Marshall.

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