According to official National Grid statistics, wind overtook coal-fired power plants for generation on five separate occasions in August – the first time this has ever happened. 

It provides some consolation for what proved to be a damp-squib August which turned out to be the wettest for a decade and coldest for 21 years as a month’s rain sparked flood warnings nationwide.

Commenting on these statistics, Jennifer Webber, director of external affairs at trade association Renewables UK, said: “Wind energy is taking its place as the UK’s new powerhouse, overtaking coal and nuclear as one of the most important resources we have to keep Britain’s lights on.

“It continues to surpass its own records, and these figures prove that can happen at any time of year. As we approach autumn and winter, we can expect wind to maintain this strong performance and provide electricity when demand is especially high.”


Wind energy exceeded coal on 3, 9, 11, 12 and 17 August. This strong performance continued towards the end of the month when onshore and offshore wind generated more than the nuclear fleet on 29 August – 5,805MW from wind compared to 5,379MW from nuclear.

On 11 August, wind also set a new daily record when it provided 21% of the UK’s electricity needs. This was exceeded on 17 August when wind energy broke its own record, setting a new figure of 22%. It led to what proved to be the best-performing August to date, with total wind generation at 10% – close behind the 13% record set during December 2013.

Last week, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed that wind, solar and hydro energy grew at its fastest ever pace in 2013, equating to almost 22% of global power generation.

The Paris-based organisation’s third annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report estimated that global renewable energy generation will rise by another 45% to make up nearly 26% of global electricity generation by 2020. But it also warns that annual growth in renewable power will begin to slow after 2014, as policy and market risks threaten to slow deployment.

Luke Nicholls

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