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UK celebrates new wind record as European subsidy-free race hots up

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A new record for wind generation was set in the UK last weekend against the backdrop of an increasingly competitive subsidy-free race in Europe.

Weather conditions experienced on Saturday saw generation from the UK’s onshore and offshore wind assets top 13.9GW, equivalent to around 37% of the UK’s total energy demand at the time.

The National Grid Control Room confirmed on Twitter that the highest ever metered wind output was recorded at 10.664GW. That figure, combined with embedded and non-metered wind, took Saturday’s total output towards 14GW at various times.

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Charts provided by Drax Insight show the growth of wind generation as the weather system blew in, taking the technology’s share of total output to more than one-third.

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At 13.9GW, the new record is around 300MW greater than the 13.6GW figure which set a new record earlier this year. But unlike on that occasion, the output was not enough to send the UK into negative pricing as it did in mid-January, possibly owing to the cold conditions.

Elexon data shows that the system price for electricity on Saturday morning dipped to £38.10/MWh before falling to a daily low of £28/MWh around 3pm.

Richard Molloy, business development manager for energy storage at Eaton, said the new milestone demonstrated the UK’s potential for a low-carbon energy economy at “reasonable cost” to consumers.

“The past years have seen households, businesses and independent power providers take great advantage of the falling solar and wind prices to reduce energy costs and improve CO2 footprint.

“The growth in energy storage options will also reduce the load on the power grid at peak times, which is exciting for financial investors as a new way to play on the grid service markets.”

Meanwhile, there is increasing competition on the continent to develop Europe’s first subsidy-free offshore wind farms.

Yesterday Vattenfall announced that it had been awarded a permit to develop the 700-750MW Hollandse Kust Zuid offshore wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands. The permit’s legal nature states that the project must be fully operational within five years, with Vattenfall stating it will now proceed to the final design preparations stage.

If it adheres to that timescale, the Vattenfall project will come onstream before subsidy-free offshore wind farms proposed in Germany at an auction last April. While it remains to be seen if those farms will be built, there is scope for them to be developed in 2024/25.

Gunnar Groebler, senior VP for wind at Vattenfall, said the winning bid was a result of “continuous cost reduction efforts” across Vattenfall’s supply chain.

“We are very happy to enlarge our contribution in making the Dutch energy system more sustainable and support our customers, large and small, on their way to become climate smarter,” he said.


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