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UK winter power shift as renewables outpace gas

  • Publish Date: Posted 3 months ago
  • Author: Steve Walia

​In the winter of 2023/24, the UK witnessed a historic shift in its power generation, with renewables, including wind, solar and hydro, surpassing gas-fired plants in electricity output. The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) reported that renewables generated approximately 55 terawatt hours (TWh), accounting for 40% of the UK's electricity, overtaking the 45TWh from gas plants, which contributed about a third. This marked a significant move towards reducing reliance on fossil fuels, particularly against the backdrop of the UK's heavy dependency on gas for heating and electricity-a situation exacerbated by surging gas prices following geopolitical tensions.


The analysis underscored the economic and security advantages of bolstering renewable energy, highlighting that an equivalent gas power output would have necessitated purchasing an extra 110TWh of expensive fossil gas. This scenario presents a stark choice for the UK: enhance domestic renewable capacity or continue facing the volatility of gas import prices. Jess Ralston, head of energy at ECIU, emphasised the urgent need for the UK to expand its renewable energy infrastructure to mitigate this vulnerability and secure energy independence.


However, the path to increasing renewable energy capacity faces challenges, notably in offshore wind investment. Despite the government announcing a £1bn budget for this year's clean power contracts, industry voices argue it falls short of what's needed to achieve the ambitious goal of increasing offshore wind capacity to 50GW by 2030. This situation reflects broader issues in policy and investment that could hinder the UK's energy transition.


The move towards renewables not only represents a shift in the UK's energy mix but also underscores the critical need for strategic investments and policies to support the growth of renewable energy, ensuring a sustainable, secure, and independent energy future amidst global challenges.