Renewables produce enough electricity to power all the UK’s homes in 2023

Renewable electricity generation is up by more than a tenth in 2023 compared to 2019, while gas generation is down by around a quarter.

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By George Smeeton

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New analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s (ECIU) Power Tracker [1] finds that between 1st January 2023 and 31st December 2023, power generated by wind, hydro and solar is estimated to reach over 90TWh (terawatt hours). This is more than enough power for all of the UK’s 28 million homes.

Generating the same amount of power using gas power stations would have required more than 180TWh of gas – the same amount needed to heat more than 15.5 million UK homes.

Jess Ralston, Head of Energy at ECIU, said:“Every turn of an offshore wind turbine’s blades reduces our dependence on gas. As the North Sea continues its inevitable decline, we’ll need to import ever greater quantities of gas, undermining our energy independence. The choice for the UK is stark. Boost British renewables or import more gas at a price we can’t control."

Renewable generation has increased in each quarter of 2023, compared to 2019 [2], including an increase of around a quarter and a fifth in Q1 and Q4 2023 respectively. Gas generation has fallen by 20-30% in each quarter of the year, compared to the same quarter in 2019. Falls in other sources of generation, such as biomass and combined heat and power, are also seen.

Other sources of generation, including nuclear and biomass, have generated around 60TWh over 2023. Using gas power plants instead would require around 120TWh more gas, equivalent to almost 10 million homes’ annual gas demand, or gas contained within around 140 LNG tankers.

There are several large new wind farms in the pipeline which would help to meet the UK’s growing demand for electricity. However, the Government failed to secure any offshore wind bids in the last Contracts for Difference auction in September [3]. Changes have been made to the scheme’s parameters for the next auction round in 2024 with the hope that the construction of these windfarms will begin shortly after the auction.

In addition, there are concerns around grid infrastructure and the process to connect to the grid keeping pace with the quick rate of buildout. Ofgem and the National Grid Future System Operator have committed to accelerating the process for grid connections and both the Conservatives and Labour parties have also made it a priority ahead of the next Election [4].

To that end, National Grid has announced it will accelerate 10GW of battery storage projects [5], with 20-30GW more storage capacity expected to connect by 2030 in its most ambitious scenarios. Between winter 2021/22 and winter 2022/23, the pipeline of battery storage projects increased five times [6]. For example, Europe’s largest grid scale battery storage facility came online near Hull in 2022 [7] and the largest battery storage scheme in the world recently had planning permission granted for a site near Manchester [8].

The UK has a higher gas dependency than any other country in Europe with 40% of our power and 85% of our home heating coming from gas. According to the International Monetary Fund this, combined with the UK having the least efficient housing stock in western Europe, has meant UK households have been worst hit by rising energy costs [9].


Notes to editors

[1] ECIU Power Tracker. Using data from BM Reports and the University of Sheffield.

[2] 2019 data is used because it was the last ‘normal’ year, with the coronavirus pandemic and gas crisis throughout 2020-2022 impacting the UK’s demand, imports and exports and skewing the data for these years. 2019 data from HM Government: Energy Trends table 5.1b.

[3] No new UK offshore wind awarded in auction, Energy Live News, 2023

[4] Ofgem to slay zombie projects on National Grid ESO queue, The Times, 2023.

[5] National Grid to accelerate connection for 10GW of battery storage

[6] National Grid, Future Energy Scenarios, 2022

[7] Europe's biggest battery storage system switched on, BBC News, 2022.

[8] Plans approved for world’s largest battery storage scheme in Manchester, Edie, 2023.

[9] ] UK households worst hit in western Europe, finds IMF, the Guardian, 2022

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