Not everybody loves extremely windy days. But if you’re trying to generate more power via wind farms, there’s nothing like a blustery day in the winter. Last Friday, the wintry weather set a record in Britain as more than 40% of that day’s electricity was generated on wind farms. The 17.3 gigawatts (GW) generated by wind turbines just beat the former record, which was set in January of this year. High winds kept the 40% figure going through Saturday. Less than one-fifth of the day’s electricity came from coal plants and gas.
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“It’s great to see our onshore and offshore wind farms have smashed another record, generating more power on a cold December day than ever before, just when we need it most,” said Melanie Onn, the deputy chief executive of Renewable U.K., as reported in The Guardian.
While the worldwide consensus is that 2020 has left a lot to be desired, it was a good year for green energy in Britain. Renewable energy was up, while energy demand in general fell due to lockdowns. Schools, office buildings and many businesses stayed dark. In April, solar power dominated with a record of 9.6 GW. That helped set the stage for Britain’s longest-ever coal-free streak, which lasted 1,629 consecutive hours and ended in June.
Thanks to all this clean energy, electricity-related carbon emissions were way down. In March, they fell to an all-time low of 143 g carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour. To put this in perspective, Energy UK gives the following usual breakdown of electricity sources, based on 2016 figures: 42% natural gas, 9% coal, 3.1% other fossil fuels, 21% nuclear and 24.5% renewable energy, including wind, wave, marine, hydro, biomass and solar power combined.
Onn said, “We expect to see many more records set in the years ahead, as the government has made wind energy one of the most important pillars of its energy strategy for reaching net-zero emissions as fast and as cheaply as possible.”
Via The Guardian
Image via Ed White