Britain is being powered by storms

WSH energy produced nearly 15 per cent of Britain’s electricity across 2015 WSH energy produced nearly 15 per cent of Britain’s electricity across 2015 Helen Hotson
08 Mar
2016
Torrential weather is boosting British renewable energy

According to statistics, some of the stormiest days this winter have also been the best for wind, solar and hydropower (WSH) energy. The exceptionally stormy period last December that brought storms Desmond, Eva and Frank to the mainland added thousands of megawatts of low carbon electricity to the energy budget.

‘Last December, more than 19 per cent of Great Britain’s electrical energy came from WSH,’ says Dr Grant Wilson, Research Associate at the Environmental and Energy Engineering Research Group at the University of Sheffield. ‘That is the highest figure yet for a calendar month.’

WSH energy produced a total of 14.6 per cent of Britain’s electricity across 2015 – the highest it has ever been. The storms’ record-breaking impact on WSH has helped to bolster Britain’s longer-term diversification of the energy sector. Further, when the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change releases its 2015 greenhouse gas emissions statistics for the power sector next month, the results are predicted to be at their lowest value since 1990.

According to Wilson, this drop in emissions is due to a combination of factors: a change from coal to gas plants in the early 1990s, a reduction in overall electrical demand since 2005, and an increase in renewables over the last few years. ‘However, the combination of more wind turbines and stormy weather provided greater levels of electrical energy – so it might be true to say that storms could boost the output compared to the average.’

Will more of Britain’s storm energy be harnessed in the future? ‘Yes and no,’ says Wilson who suggests that for the next few years, the use of renewables will continue to rise. Projects are underway to expand the UK’s offshore wind capacity and other onshore WSH projects are nearing completion. ‘However,’ he cautions, ‘as the funding landscape has been changed since the general election last May, there is an expectation of a major slowdown in renewables investment.’

This was published in the March 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Related items

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

Target Ovarian Cancer

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Polar

Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…

Oceans

The effect of plastics on the world’s oceans is posing…

Geophoto

Camera technology may have come a long way since the…

Energy

The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn…

Wildlife

Despite their high profiles, most of the world’s national animal…

Oceans

Asian countries are pledging to reduce the amount of land-based…

Geophoto

There’s a world of visual wonder beneath the waves but…

Energy

A short, summer eclipse in America has solar power generators…

Climate

A dramatic increase in dust storms across the western United…

Climate

Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…

Climate

A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of…

Wildlife

It’s not just the bees that are disappearing. Insects across…

Oceans

Far beneath the waves, a race is unfolding to claim…

Climate

Compared to other types of carbon sink, seagrass in Kenya…

Geophoto

Who in their right mind wants to shoot with film…

Climate

Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…

Geophoto

Calling photographers passionate about capturing and sharing great images of…

Climate

Five experts weigh-in on the future of the Paris Agreement…

Oceans

Analysis into a killer whale found dead off the shores…

Geophoto

For the past ten years, the Chartered Institution of Water…