National Grid: Wind slowly but surely replacing gas in UK electricity mix

Pictured: Orsted apprentices at Hornsea Two offshore wind farm. Image: Orsted

The ESO revealed on Tuesday (9 January) that wind accounted for 29.4% of the UK’s electricity generation mix in 2023 – only a slightly smaller proportion than that accounted for by gas (32%).

For context, wind made up 26.8% of the generation mix in 2022 while gas accounted for 38.5%.

As well as the decline in gas-fired electricity generation, the ESO has tracked a continual decline for coal. Coal had a 39.6% share in the generation mix in 2013, falling to 1.5% in 2022 and 1% in 2023.

By the end of 2024, all of the UK’s remaining coal-fired power generation capacity will be required to come offline.

2023 was a landmark year for British wind, the ESO has stated, with major projects including the 1.1GW Seagreen wind farm and the first phase of the 3.6GW Dogger Bank array coming online.

Even before this, in January 2023, wind power generation records were broken. Daily wind generation surpassed 21GW on 10 January for the first time. This feat was next achieved again on 21 December.

The ESO has also posted some success for solar. On 20 April, the nation achieved a record 10.97GW of solar generation.

Across the year, solar accounted for 4.9% of the generation mix, up slightly year-on-year from 4.4%.

Balancing supply and demand

As well as looking at the electricity generation mix, the ESO assesses fluctuations in energy demand across the year.

The highest daily electricity demand was recorded on 23 January, at 44GW. This is slightly lower than the 46GW daily high recorded in 2022.

Energy demand has been a hot topic over the past year with the energy price crisis in mind and with recognition growing around how flexibility can contribute to both decarbonisation and energy security as more intermittent renewable generation comes online.

The ESO launched its Demand Flexibility Service in winter 2022-3. The Service sees energy users – predominantly homes and small businesses – incentivized financially to avoid using energy-intensive appliance during peak times.

It has proven extremely popular, with 1.6 million customers taking part in initial trials. As such, the ESO is running the Service again until March this year.

Also under trial with ESO support is an initiative whereby energy stored in electric car batteries is used to balance the grid. The UK Government last month signalled its support for this kind of pioneering initiative with a multi-million-pound innovation fund for bidirectional electric vehicle charging.

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