UK celebrates a green Christmas, Drax-commissioned report finds

More than 40% of the electricity generated on Christmas Day came from renewable sources, according to a Drax-commissioned report.

On average, 12.4GW of electricity generated came from green sources – 63% more than in 2015 when just 25% of the electricity generated came from renewables, and up 195% compared to five Christmases ago in 2012 when just 4.2GW (or 12% of the energy generated) came from renewables.

75% of the renewable energy produced on Christmas Day came from wind turbines with 9.4GW generated on average – equivalent to 31% of all the electricity generated that day. This was close to the record for wind generation reached just a couple of days earlier on Friday December 23 2016 when at its peak 10.8GW of power was generated by wind.

The figures from Electric Insights, commissioned by Drax, show that biomass generation has also increased from just 0.5GW on average on December 25 2012, to 2GW at Christmas in 2016.

This comes just days after the European Commission approved the UK government’s decision to award Drax Power a Contract for Difference (CfD) to upgrade the third of its six units at its power station in North Yorkshire to run on wood pellets, from coal.

From coal to renewables

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said: “These Christmas figures show that the UK energy system really is changing. Renewables are increasingly vital to the UK’s energy mix as we decarbonise and move away from coal.

“Since upgrading half of the power station to run on wood pellets, three million households are powered with renewable energy generated by Drax. We provided 20% of the UK’s renewable power in the first half of 2016.

“Biomass allows for more continuous power generation than other intermittent renewables, which is important for security of supply. With the right conditions, we can do even more, converting further units at Drax to use sustainable biomass in place of coal and through rapid response gas projects to plug the gaps created by intermittent renewables.”

‘Plug the gaps’

Drax is developing plans to build four rapid response open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) power stations, which could, at the flick of a switch, be running at capacity within ten minutes. These more flexible plants will provide system support to the Grid and ‘plug the gaps’ created by intermittent renewables like solar and wind.

The proposed rapid response gas projects would further assist in getting coal off the system and so help the government achieve carbon saving targets.

This article was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight. 

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