UK wind power share shows record rise

wind farm
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 MW wind farm in the U.S. state of Oregon. Credit: Steve Wilson / Wikipedia.

The United Kingdom wind power production has been enjoying an upward trajectory, and on Tuesday wind power achieved a significant energy production milestone, reported Brooks Hays for UPI. High winds from Hurricane Gonzalo were the force behind wind turbines outproducing nuclear power plants on Tuesday—supplying 14.2 percent of all electricity, compared with nuclear's 13.2 percent. For a 24-hour period, said the BBC, "spinning blades produced more energy than splitting atoms." Gonzalo brought gusts of up to 70 mph to the northern parts of the UK, according to National Grid.

Earlier this week, James Murray for BusinessGreen said that "figures from National Grid also show that wind power outperformed throughout the whole weekend and into Monday morning, and allowed a number of coal power plants to be taken offline." "Wind power set a new peak record of generating 7,998 megawatts (MW) over a half-hour period at midday on Saturday once local turbines are factored in," said a press release from trade association RenewableUK.

Nonetheless, the wind power victory needs to be put in perspective considering other factors that were at play. Windy conditions raised turbine output at a time when a number of the UK's nuclear reactors were offline for repairs, said reports. This can be regarded as "an unlikely turning of the tables with more electricity in the country generated by than nuclear power for a day," as the nuclear power portal, NuclearStreet put it. Similarly, the BBC remarked that "'s ascendancy over nuclear is expected to be temporary." NuclearStreet identified the reactors that were down: Sizewell B, down due to a "statutory outage," Hunterston B Reactor 4 shut down for maintenance, two units at Dungeness B off, one for refueling and the other to repair a boiler pump. Back in August, four reactors were taken offline after a crack was found on a boiler spine, said the BBC.

"Wind power is often used as a convenient whipping boy by political opponents and vested interests; all the while, it's been quietly powering millions of homes across the UK and providing a robust response to its vocal detractors," said RenewableUK's Director of External Affairs, Jennifer Webber.

The government, meanwhile, continues to speak about a "diverse energy mix" as the way to go to satisfy UK's needs and for UK's energy security. The BBC quoted a government spokesperson who said that "we need a diverse energy mix that includes renewable sources like wind and solar alongside nuclear and technologies like carbon capture and storage so we can continue to use fossil fuels in a cleaner way."

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