Q1 2018: Wind power breezes past nuclear

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London 

Britain’s wind farms have enjoyed another record-breaking three months. Peak output surpassed 14 GW for the first time, and wind produced more electricity than nuclear over the quarter.

Last quarter, wind and solar overtook nuclear generation in Britain, but now wind by itself has beaten nuclear for the first time. In the first quarter of 2018, wind produced 15,560 GWh of electricity – 30 GWh more than nuclear. 

Quarterly energy production from wind farms, solar and nuclear reactors 

After surpassing 11 GW and 12 GW of peak output last quarter, this quarter wind broke through 13 GW on January 17th and then 14 GW on March 17th (see chart below). 

Half-hourly power output from wind and nuclear during the quarter

Britain’s wind farms produced 18.8% of electricity over the quarter, and at their peak they supplied 47.3% of the country’s demand (another new record). This happened overnight on March 17th, when temperatures once again dipped below freezing. There has been much debate on whether wind can be relied upon during a cold, calm spell. During the six sub-zero days this quarter, wind provided between 12% and 43% of electricity demand, operating at a minimum of 4.4 GW. 

Authors: Dr Iain StaffellProfessor Richard GreenDr Rob Gross and Professor Tim Green.

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