Drax has confirmed that Britain’s vast wind power resources generated more electricity than gas in the first three months of 2023.
According to the power generation business, almost a third (32.4%) of Britain’s electricity was generated from wind power outpacing gas, which delivered 31.7%, for the first time in the country’s history, Drax Electric Insights said.
In Q1 2023, wind delivered 24TWh, gas provided 23.4TWh, imports made up 9.2TWh (12.6%) closely followed by nuclear which provided 9.2TWh (12.5%). Rounding off the electricity fuel mix is biomass, solar, hydro and coal which accounted for 5.7%, 2.3%, 1.5% and 1.3% respectively.
Another positive in these results comes in the form of renewables. Drax’s data indicated that almost 42% of Britain’s electricity mix came from renewable sources in the first three months of 2023.
Fossil fuels supplied 33% of electricity with the rest coming from imports from abroad and the country’s shrinking nuclear fleet. This bodes well for the UK’s intended target to decarbonise the power system by 2035 – a target which has recently been scrutinised as “in jeopardy”.
“The renewable power revolution has transformed how Britain gets its electricity, making our power grid cleaner and greener,” said Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, and lead author of the quarterly Drax Electric Insights report series.
“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.”
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.”