Renewables produced enough clean energy to power every UK home in 2023

Research published last week from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s (ECIU) Power Tracker found that from 1 January to 31 December, wind, hydro and solar power sources provided more than 90TWh of clean energy.

The ECIU states this would be more than enough to power all of the UK’s 28 million homes.

The research also found that generating the same amount of power using gas from power stations, would’ve required 180TWH of gas – which is equivalent to heating more than 20 million UK homes.

Generation from renewable sources increased in each quarter of 2023 compared to 2019 levels, including a 25% increase in the first quarter of the year. In contrast, gas generation fell by 20-30% each quarter compared to 2019 levels.

Other sources of generation, including nuclear and biomass, generated around 60TWh in 2023.

The ECIU’s head of energy, Jess Ralston 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.”

The ECIU notes that reducing the reliance on gas is crucial to lowering energy costs. The UK has a higher gas dependency than any other country in Europe – 40% of power and 85% of home heating is currently accounted for by gas.

When combined with the fact that the UK has the least efficient housing stock in western Europe, UK households have been heavily hit by rising energy costs compared to other nations.

Looking ahead

The task ahead for the UK is to further reduce the dependence on gas by adding more clean energy and battery storage to the grid.

In a welcome boost last month, Danish multinational Ørsted reached a final investment decision on the Hornsea 3 wind farm in the North Sea, which is set to be the world’s largest when completed.

Hornsea 3, which will extend an existing array of wind farms off the Yorkshire coast, will cost around £10-11bn to deliver and will have the capacity to power more than three million British homes.

Several developers in the UK have paused or scrapped offshore wind projects this year due to rising supply chain costs and issues around grid infrastructure and waiting times for projects.

Ørsted itself halted the development of two offshore wind farms in New Jersey last month due to rising costs.

And rival Vattenfall paused the Norfolk Boreas project in the UK this June for the same reason.

In response, National Grid will spend £2bn more in the UK through to the 2025-26 fiscal year than it had planned to this spring. A considerable portion of this budget is earmarked for enhancing grid infrastructure, in a bid to expedite the energy transition in alignment with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Let me say it again, Wind and Solar are fine sources of energy, WHEN THEY ARE AVAILABLE.
    Which is not all the time. Solar, not every night!, and wind can be out for many days.
    Gas is a favourite for the home because it is always available. It might be pointed out that natural gas, methane, yields, on combustion, four H2Os for every one CO2.
    And gas, via the turbines, generates most of our electricity, I believe.
    Nuclear, via electricity, is excellent, but is expensive to install.
    Not simple.

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