NEW analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s (ECIU) Power Tracker finds that between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023, power generated by wind, hydro and solar is estimated to have been over 90TWh (terawatt hours). This is more than enough power for all of the UK’s 28 million homes.
Jess Ralston, Head of Energy at ECIU, said: “Every turn of an offshore wind turbine’s blades reduces our dependence on gas. As the North Sea continues its inevitable decline, we’ll need to import ever greater quantities of gas, undermining our energy independence. The choice for the UK is stark. Boost British renewables or import more gas at a price we can’t control.”
There are several large new wind farms in the pipeline which would help to meet the UK’s growing demand for electricity. However, the Government failed to secure any offshore wind bids in the last Contracts for Difference auction in September. Changes have been made to the scheme’s parameters for the next auction round in 2024, with the hope that the construction of these windfarms will begin shortly after the auction.
In addition, there are concerns around grid infrastructure and the process to connect to the grid keeping pace with the quick rate of buildout. Ofgem and the National Grid Future System Operator have committed to accelerating the process for grid connections and both the Conservatives and Labour parties have also made it a priority ahead of the next Election.
To that end, National Grid has announced it will accelerate 10GW of battery storage projects, with 20-30GW more storage capacity expected to connect by 2030 in its most ambitious scenarios. Between winter 2021/22 and winter 2022/23, the pipeline of battery storage projects increased five times. For example, Europe’s largest grid scale battery storage facility came online near Hull in 2022, and the largest battery storage scheme in the world recently had planning permission granted for a site near Manchester.
The UK has a higher gas dependency than any other country in Europe, with 40 per cent of our power and 85 per cent of our home heating coming from gas. According to the International Monetary Fund this, combined with the UK having the least efficient housing stock in western Europe, has meant UK households have been worst hit by rising energy costs.
* More details in the Power Tracker here.
* Source: Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit