UK storms cause significant rise in wind power

February 2022 was the first month in which the UK issued three separate storm warnings since its current weather warning system was introduced. In a very short space of time, storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin did appreciable damage to properties and infrastructure, and severely disrupted travel. Storm Eunice, which hit the UK on the 18th of February, killed three people and left 1.4 million homes without electricity, was followed only a couple of days later by the even more powerful Storm Franklin. 

However, among all the damage and disruption, the two storms also achieved something rather more positive. Figures released by National Grid ESO, the UK’s electricity network operator, showed that as a result of the severe weather wind produced over half of the UK’s power.

Storm Eunice produced 46% of the UK’s power on Friday the 18th of February. Storm Franklin topped that figure on Monday the 21st.

The ‘storm of the decade’ caused wind speeds approaching 80mph at several locations across the country. A gust of 122mph at the Needles on the Isle of Wight is provisionally the highest ever recorded in England.

The extreme weather also provided over half of the country’s electricity. 

The National Grid ESO says that during Franklin wind power produced 52.6% of total electricity generated. This was followed by nuclear 14.8%, gas 12.3%, imports 11.0%, biomass 4.3%, hydro 2.9%, coal 1.7%, solar 0.5%

The figures are all the more remarkable when considered in the light of typical norms. Renewable energy, which includes solar, wind and hydroelectric, usually generates a yearly average of electricity of 19.3%.

However, any electricity produced by wind generation is not stored but used instantaneously. Greg Hands, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, said in the immediate aftermath of the storms that new practices will be implemented.