Wind is main source of UK electricity for first time

Wind turbines have generated more electricity than gas for the first time in the UK.

In the first three months of this year a third of the country’s electricity came from wind farms, research from Imperial College London has shown.

National Grid has also confirmed that April saw a record period of solar energy generation.

By 2035 the UK aims for all of its electricity to have net zero emissions.

“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,” said Iain Staffell, energy researcher at Imperial College and lead author of the report.

The majority of the UK’s wind power has come from offshore wind farms. Installing new onshore wind turbines has effectively been banned since 2015 in England.

Under current planning rules, companies can only apply to build onshore wind turbines on land specifically identified for development in the land-use plans drawn up by local councils. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agreed in December to relax these planning restrictions to speed up development.

Scientists say switching to renewable power is crucial to curb the impacts of climate change, which are already being felt, including in the UK, which last year recorded its hottest year since records began.

Solar and wind have seen significant growth in the UK. In the first quarter of 2023, 42% of the UK’s electricity came from renewable energy, with 33% coming from fossil fuels like gas and coal.

But BBC research revealed on Thursday that billions of pounds’ worth of green energy projects are stuck on hold due to delays with getting connections to the grid.

Some new solar and wind sites are waiting up to 10 to 15 years to be connected because of a lack of capacity in the electricity system.

And electricity only accounts for 18% of the UK’s total power needs. There are many demands for energy which electricity is not meeting, such as heating our homes, manufacturing and transport.

Currently the majority of UK homes use gas for their heating – the government is seeking to move households away from gas boilers and on to heat pumps which use electricity.

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