UK renewables deliver 5.5 million homes gas saving for Christmas

Renewables this winter have saved gas equivalent to cooking over 2 billion Christmas dinners.

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By George Smeeton

Information on this page correct as of:

New analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s (ECIU) Winter Power Tracker has found that between the 1st October and the end of Christmas day, power generated by wind, hydro and solar is likely to reach 25TWh (terawatt hours).

Generating this power using gas power stations instead would have required 50TWh more gas – the equivalent needed to heat about 5.5 million homes this winter, or cooking 2-3 billion Christmas dinners. [1]

With concerns over gas supplies this winter, more renewable power generation means less gas needs to be sourced and paid for, and the UK can keep its gas storage topped up. This also creates export opportunities to supply Europe when their demand is high and the UK has a power surplus.

Renewable generation by the end of Christmas day is likely to displace the equivalent of around a fifth (17%) of UK home's annual gas demand and 12% of UK net gas imports, 15% of what we import via pipelines or 58 LNG shipments. [2]

Jess Ralston, Head of Energy at ECIU, said: “Every swoop of a wind turbine blade means less expensive gas needed to be burnt in a power station, bringing down the price we all pay for our electricity. More gas is used when wind speeds are lower, but overall we’re using less gas thanks to renewables. Plus, large scale batteries are increasingly playing this back-up role, further cutting the UK’s gas dependency.”

By the end of New Year’s Eve, renewable generation will likely reach 28TWh, displacing around 56TWh of gas generation, over 6 million homes winter gas demand or 64 LNG tankers. If wind speeds remain strong, this could be an under-estimation.

Other sources of generation, including nuclear and biomass are expected to generate around 16TWh in this period – using gas power plants instead would require 31TWh more gas, equivalent to 4% of annual UK gas demand.

Current stand-by gas power plants, used when other power stations develop faults or operate at lower capacities, are being rapidly replaced by new technologies. For example, battery storage capacity is up five-fold from last winter, currently standing at to 2.5GW (equivalent to around two of the nuclear power station Sizewell B) [3]. The pipeline of battery storage projects has doubled between 2021 and 2022, already exceeding National Grid’s expectations for 2035 [4]. The UK’s pumped hydro storage capacity is set to rise by 130% to 6.5GW. [5]

As the UK uses gas for around 40% of power generation and 85% of home heating, we have a higher gas dependency than any country in Europe. As a result of this, and the fact we have the least efficient housing stock in western Europe, the Government recently launched the ‘It All Adds Up’ campaign to encourage gas demand reduction. [6]

Renewables are also limiting electricity wholesale costs, partly by displacing expensive gas power plants that would otherwise set higher prices, and partly through Contracts for Difference CfDs that paid back about £700 million in the year from Q4 2021 to Q3 2022 and are forecast to pay back a further £1.4 billion by the end of Q1 2023, so reducing bills. [7]

Notes to editors:

1. The ECIU’s Winter Power Tracker can be found here: Note: that ‘winter’ is defined in the energy sector as the six months of October to March. Assumptions for Christmas dinner calculation: 4 hours of using a 2-3W oven.

2. Gas consumption data from DUKES Chapter 4 (BEIS, 2022):

3. Sizewell B has a capacity of 1.2GW:

4. Renewable UK:

5. Pumped hydro storage in BEIS’ Renewable Energy Planning Database:

6. It All Adds Up, HM Government:

7. CfD payments and forecasts are from the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) CfD dashboards, as of 9 November 2022:

For more information:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, email: