The first quarter of the year was an impressive one for the UK’s renewable energy fleet, with wind farms, biomass, and hydro all recording their highest ever quarterly output and solar power reaching a new high of its own for peak power output.
According to Drax Electric Insights, with data courtesy of Elexon and National Grid, all forms of renewable electricity in the UK had a blockbuster start to the year, while at the same time the increase of nuclear imports from France helped kick coal’s contribution to the country’s overall electricity mix down to 6%.
The Drax Group is a British electrical power generation company who transformed the UK’s biggest power station into a predominantly biomass-fuelled generator. Drax is responsible for generating 7% of the UK’s electricity, with its biomass generator generating 70% of its electricity from compressed wood pellets rather than coal.
In quarterly insights based on data provided by Elexon and National Grid, Drax revealed that wind energy in the first quarter generated 11.3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, 10% more than the previous production record, with part of the increase coming from new capacity installed over the last year. Further, wind energy produced more electricity than did coal on 57 out of 90 days during the quarter.
Biomass, on the other hand, hit a new high of its own, generating 4.4 TWh for the quarter, meaning that the country’s biomass fleet ran at 95% of full capacity over the quarter. Hydro also had a record quarter, generating 1.6 TWh, 20% above its previous best. Further, solar reached its own record, a peak power output record of 7.67 gigawatt (GW).
All in all, gas provided the most amount of capacity for the quarter, doubling its nearest competitor, nuclear, which benefited from imports from France. Coal output is down nearly 30%, however, due primarily to the fact that 30% of the coal fleet were retired over the last year, with 3.2 GW of new renewable energy capacity being brought online instead.