Over half of the UK’s energy came from wind power on Boxing Day.
Despite everything – and I’m sure you don’t need a reminder of what “everything” is – this year, there have been a few bright spots in the news this year, and several have centred on the ongoing climate crisis. Back in March, we learned that the ozone layer appeared to be on the mend, last month, we found out that new diesel and petrol cars won’t be sold in the UK from 2030, and just last week came the news that Europe is getting a load of new overnight trains to provide an alternative to polluting flights. Now, with the merciful end of 2020 just days away, news has arrived that the UK set a new record for electricity generated by wind power in the past week.
According to Drax Electric Insights, which tracks energy use in the UK, wind power accounted for 50.68% (15.06 gigawatts) of the UK’s total energy use on Boxing Day, December 26. Of that, 58.82% came from onshore wind farms, and the remaining 41.18% from offshore wind power, and resulted in the first day ever that wind power provided half the UK’s electricity needs over a 24-hour period. (Although unfortunately, I keep typing it “wine power”, perhaps because that was what powered me this Boxing Day.)
Much of this success is owed to Storm Bella, which lashed the UK on Boxing Day and brought high winds all over the country – including Manchester, where trees were felled and the Overground was partially closed due to wind-blown debris. Gusts of 100mph were recorded on the Isle of Wight, and these windy conditions proved most helpful in driving wind power to new heights.
Renewables and clean energy have seen a boom in 2020, as the UK set a record back in the summer with the longest coal-free period since the Industrial Revolution. Meanwhile, unforeseen upsides of the coronavirus pandemic and spring lockdown included major benefits for UK flora and fauna, better air quality, and fewer planes in the sky, all of which helped make 2020 a greener-than-expected year. With the climate crisis continuing to threaten humans, animals, and fragile ecosystems all over the world, we’ll continue to hope that 2021 sees even more progress on this front.