Energy think-tank Ember has revealed in its Global Electricity Review 2023 that the UK recorded a 23% increase in wind generation capacity last year.
The fourth annual report detailed the progress made over the course of the previous year, in terms of electricity generation, and highlighted the recent upscaling of renewables such as solar and wind.
The UK generated 15TWh of wind energy in 2022, 23% higher than in 2021.
In fact, the report noted that in since 2015, the wind market has grown in all G20 countries. In Germany and the UK, wind power is said to account for over 20% of generation, with the UK standing at 25%. Ireland has seen wind generation take a market share of 33% – the same as Uruguay.
The result of this upturn in wind generation capacity saw renewables deliver 47% of the UK’s electricity in March 2023, National Grid ESO confirmed. Although gas had been the main source of fuel at 33.7%, wind closely followed with a contribution of 29% to March’s electricity mix. This also saw a new record set on 13 March for percentage of wind on the system at 67.4%.
Recently-published data from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), also revealed that wind produced a “record high” share of the UK’s energy mix between October and December 2022 at 24.6%.
Another positive for the UK energy sector is the downturn of coal power. Among G20 countries, Ember stated that the UK has had the largest fall in coal share with a decrease from 23% in 2015 to 1.6% in 2022.
“The new report from Ember shows that wind and power generated a record 12% of global electricity in 2022 and is certainly exciting progress for the renewable energy industry. It’s also encouraging to note that the UK is leading in this area, with low-carbon sources fuelling the majority (54%) of electricity across the nation,” said Eduardo Fernandez, head of gas, power, and water at NTT DATA UK and Ireland.
“The progress of sustainable electricity throughout 2022 was in part due to record levels of wind generation but also as a result of our work with solar PV, which contributed around 1,000GWh more to the grid last year compared to 2021.
“Despite the UK progressing as a global leader in renewable energy, there is still a long way to go before our electricity grid is fully optimised to make the most of our renewable energy capabilities.”
The report also outlined that solar and wind power increased their combined share of global electricity to 12% in 2022, however other clean energy resources dropped for the first time since 2011.
Solar generation grew by 24% in 2022, the fastest-growing electricity source for 18 years straight. The growth of solar capacity in 2022 alone would have been sufficient enough to meet the annual electricity demand of South Africa.
The global solar and wind generation in 2022 combined would have exceeded the total electricity demand of the European Union.
More than 60 countries now generate more than 10% of their electricity from solar and wind, up from last year’s 50 countries. Solar and wind will have to maintain a high growth rate throughout the decade, for which urgent work will be needed towards the grid with faster planning permissions, grid connections, grid flexibility and market design.
Last year, solar and wind slowed down the growth of emissions from the power sector by 20%, if all the capacity added from both renewables came from fossil fuels instead.
Both renewable technologies – solar and wind – added 245TWh and 312TWh, respectively last year – met 80% of the global electricity demand growth in 2022, with more than 694TWh. This year (2023) could see the first year, outside of a recession, that clean power growth would exceed electricity demand growth, meaning 2022 could have hit “peak” emissions.
Parts of this article first appeared in Solar Media’s sister publication PV-Tech. You can read it here.