A blustery start to summer has helped the renewable energy industry to its highest ever output as wind turbines and solar panels help to meet more than half of the UK’s electricity demand.
National Grid’s data at lunchtime on Wednesday showed that solar panels produced around 7.6GW of electricity while wind farms generated 9.5GW of power.
In addition, the UK burnt 2GW of renewable biomass, made from waste wood, and produced a modest amount of hydro electricity to help squeeze traditional power plants off the system.
The record 19.3GW output of renewable energy was enough to meet more than 50pc of midday power demand which reached 35.4GW.
The National Grid control room added that this is the first time that renewable energy and nuclear power have together produced more power than gas and coal plants combined.
Nuclear power made up 23.2pc of the energy mix at midday, while gas-fired power plants were lowered to 20.8pc to make room for the surge in renewable power.
The renewables boom caused market prices to fall into negative territory in the early hours of this morning and prompted National Grid to make payments to major energy users to use more power so that the grid wasn’t overwhelmed by supply.
This is the first summer in which National Grid will use the so-called ‘demand turn-up’ scheme to pay six successful businesses, who were selected through an auction, to use the grid’s excess supply rather than pay energy companies to stop generating.
A National Grid spokesman said its figures show it will save consumers £500,000 over the summer.
Emma Pinchbeck, who heads up renewable energy trade body RenewableUK, said: “National Grid is confirming that low-carbon sources are generating 70pc of our electricity – with wind power the star amongst these sources.”
She said the “incoming government should be proud of what the wind sector has achieved in the UK, and work with the industry to ensure that these record-breaking days for wind energy generation become our new norm”.