By Anders Lorenzen
Data from its national grid operator, the National Grid, have concluded that 2022 was a record year for wind power in the UK.
The data shows that the output of UK wind farms onshore and offshore continues to increase; in 2022 they produced a record 26.8% of the country’s electricity, though gas-powered power plants are the most significant source of energy.
A huge jump
This represented a huge jump compared to the output in 2021 which was 21.8%. More wind farms have come online during 2022 – a key contributor to the extra output; this includes the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Hornsea 2, which is positioned off the Yorkshire coast and became fully operational in August last year. Hornsea 2 is able to generate enough electricity to power 1.4 million homes.
Electricity output from the UK’s gas power plants was also up from 2021, but only slightly at 38.5%, up from 37.8% the previous year.
These results allowed National Grid to significantly reduce electricity imports last year; they only imported 5.5% of electricity in 2022 – in 2021 that number was nearly double that at 10.3%. France is the UK’s main electricity import partner, but as the country had issues with its nuclear fleet it had to import more than it could export in 2022.
The UK has a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Wind power, mainly offshore, plays a huge role in meeting that goal. At the end of last year, there was hope that onshore wind could again play a leading role in the transition when the UK government announced they would lift restrictions that had prevented a significant increase in onshore wind development.
The UK enjoys some of the best wind power generation conditions in Europe. Currently, the country has over 28 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity, a figure that is expected to increase in 2023.