Renewable energy sources, including wind, hydro, and solar power, contributed over 90 terawatt-hours (TWh) of clean energy to the UK from January 1 to December 31, as revealed by research from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit's (ECIU) Power Tracker.
This substantial output is deemed sufficient to power all 28 million homes in the country. Comparatively, generating the same amount of power using gas from power stations would have required 180 TWh of gas, equivalent to heating over 20 million UK homes.
The ECIU's findings underline the growing dominance of renewables, with a consistent increase in generation observed in each quarter of 2023 compared to 2019 levels. Notably, the first quarter saw a 25% rise. In contrast, gas generation experienced a decline of 20-30% each quarter compared to 2019 levels. Other sources, including nuclear and biomass, collectively generated around 60 TWh in 2023.
Jess Ralston, Head of Energy at ECIU, emphasized the role of renewables in reducing dependence on gas, particularly crucial as the UK seeks to lower energy costs and address its high gas dependency, constituting 40% of power and 85% of home heating. Ralston highlighted the choice facing the UK—boost domestic renewables or increase reliance on imported gas, posing challenges to energy independence.
To achieve a reduction in gas dependence, the UK faces the task of further integrating clean energy and battery storage into the grid. The recent final investment decision by Ørsted on the Hornsea 3 wind farm, set to be the world's largest upon completion, presents a positive development. However, challenges in the offshore wind sector, such as rising supply chain costs and grid infrastructure issues, have led to some project pauses and cancellations by developers.
In response to industry challenges, National Grid plans to allocate an additional £2 billion in the UK through the 2025-26 fiscal year, primarily directed towards enhancing grid infrastructure. This initiative aims to expedite the energy transition in alignment with the UK's 2050 net-zero target.