When wind power can produce more output for the UK grid than nuclear generators in the course of a day you know that something has changed.
That’s precisely what happened in this country yesterday, when the combined input from turbines around the land fed 14.2 per cent of all generation, with nuclear plants trailing at 13.2 per cent.
How many consumers of power would have believed that wind turbine capacity had come so far?
It has to be acknowledged that there was a confluence of events which made this possible. Yesterday we had particularly strong winds across much of the country and this coincided with just more than half of the UK’s nuclear plants being offline at the same time, for a variety of reasons.
All that said, we now have a high profile example of the significant contribution renewables are making to our energy needs. The naysayers who claim that many turbines are shut down when winds get too strong have been given a reality check and the sheer amount of wind generation now in place has been highlighted widely in news bulletins remarking on this turn of events.
At the same time it has highlighted the degree of fragility in our ageing nuclear infrastructure (a thought to make anyone shudder) and demonstrated the resilience of employing much more simple technology – blades and turbines – in a geographically distributed network.
If only we had figures to add in to yesterday’s results which showed the combined energy creation and savings from solar arrays and renewable heat installations. Eyes would truly be opened.
Unfortunately political expedience is now showing signs of throttling the investment in wind power and other renewables that has got us this far. We still think, though, that people power will continue to do the work, as responsible home and business owners make their own investments in heat and power generation purely because, regardless of subsidies, they make sense on both the financial and environmental level, as well as reducing reliance on a creaking national power generation programme.