Wind generation toppled several records in Q1 2018, contributing towards a record high of 25TWh of renewable generation.
Those are the findings of the latest energy report from monitoring firm EnAppSys, which has collated power generation statistics for the first three months of 2018.
According to the data, wind farms set new records for half-hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly levels of generation on the way to producing 15.8TWh of wind from 1 January to 31 March 2018.
Solar, meanwhile, produced 1.86TWh of electricity through the period, equivalent to 7.4% of total renewable output and around 2% of overall generation.
Total low carbon power in the first quarter of 2018 amounted to just shy of half of total output (47.1%) with the help of 18.1% from the country’s nuclear fleet, a figure greater than gas (37.3%) and coal-fired plants (9.4%) combined.
Around 6.3% came from imports.
Paul Verrill, director at EnAppSys, said the performance of renewables in the first quarter of the year highlighted “just how important this electricity source… has become to Britain’s power mix”.
“With offshore wind farms a cheap and relatively uncontroversial source of power, levels of wind generation are expected to continue rising and this trend will be fast-tracked by the Western Link interconnector coming on stream later this year.
“Much of the onshore wind farm capacity within Britain is based in Scotland but there are relatively limited levels of export capacity down into the rest of Britain through northern England,” he said.
The renewables performance is particularly bad news for the country’s remaining coal fleet, which is continuing to see its role in the power mix dwindle. The 8.15TWh of power it produced in the first three months of 2018 – nearly 80% lower than the 40.33TWh it produced in Q1 2012 – is a record low for this time of year.
EnAppSys said the figures were evidence of coal’s collapse from the dominant player in Britain’s power mix to a provider of reserve power when other supplies are short.
“The ability of the system to fall back on coal in this phase of the market has proven highly beneficial and marks a major strategic shift in the way coal plants are being used in GB power generation.
“The additional electricity that coal produced on March 1 helped reduce gas use, reducing the risk of gas interruption. This showed the value of having a diversified fuel supply in the GB energy mix and demonstrated the role coal could play as a back-up source of generation,” Verrill added.