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Wind turbines provide largest share of UK’s power

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Wind turbines provided the largest share of the UK’s power in the first quarter of 2023 for the first time in the history of the country’s electricity grid.

According to analysis within the next installment of the Drax Electric Insights report, an independent report by academics from Imperial College London, 32.4% Britain’s electricity (24 TWh) was generated by wind turbines in the first three months of this year, overtaking gas which dropped into second place at 31.7%.

Renewable sources provided a combined 42% of the country’s electricity in the same period, a good deal higher than fossil fuels at 33%. The remaining electricity was either imported or sourced from nuclear power stations. 

The full breakdown of Britain’s electricity fuel mix in the first quarter of this year was:

Britain Fuel mix Q1 2023

Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, and lead author of the quarterly Drax Electric Insights report series, said:

“The renewable power revolution has transformed how Britain gets its electricity, making our power grid cleaner and greener.

“In the space of a decade the UK has almost completely cut out coal, after relying on the most polluting fossil fuel for over a century to power our country. 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.”

One coal-fired power station remains in Britain, following Drax’s recent announcement that this type of fuel had stopped being used at their power station in North Yorkshire and the company’s transition to biomass.

Bruce Heppenstall, Drax Power Station Plant Director, said:

“This is a remarkable achievement for the UK, and it comes at a vital time when cutting the use of foreign gas is critical to our national energy security. Throughout the energy crisis, biomass has also played a crucial role in providing the country with a reliable source of renewable power to displace fossil fuels from abroad.

“At Drax, we believe the UK must now focus on unlocking investment in carbon negative technologies, such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), which permanently remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emit. Only BECCS can simultaneously remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere whilst also generating reliable, renewable power when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun is not shining.

“Countries across the world, and particularly the United States, are stepping up to address climate change, we believe the UK Government should accelerate its policy support for BECCS to give this country the best chance of establishing itself as a world leader in carbon removals, attracting further clean energy investment, creating jobs and delivering its net zero targets.”

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