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How did high winds in February and lockdown in March make energy use greener in the first quarter of 2020?

How did high winds in February and lockdown in March make energy use greener in the first quarter of 2020?

down, many of us were becoming increasingly concerned about climate change – hopefully we are still concerned about this! We were going to publish this blog post in March and it was going to focus on February power production due to how windy it was, but of course other things took over in March… Incidentally the first quarter figures are now out for energy production so we are going to look at the quarter as a whole. To take your mind off the usual Coronavirus related alerts here is some good news!

The UK and many other nations have been building vast onshore and offshore wind farms for quite a while now and it’s making a serious impact. Some nations can now produce over 100% of their energy during very windy times and have energy left over to supply to their neighbours. Sadly, this is not the UK yet, we are talking about Denmark, Germany, and a handful of other nations. But it is extremely encouraging, nonetheless.

In the UK we are only a little behind. In 2019 renewables beat fossil fuels on 137 days, and 83 of those days coal power stations were not used at all. Considering that in 1990 75% of the UKs energy came from coal and that now it’s only 2%, this makes one feel quite good! Source The Guardian

This chart illustrates the change in energy source over the last 14 years. The grey area is wind and solar, in 2006 the figure is around 1 Twh / quarter and now it is over 18 Twh / quarter!:

Source: ofgem, click on the graph for a link to the interactive version on the ofgem website.

Electricity generation mix by quarter and fuel source 2006 to 2019 the last 12 years

Let us take a look at the amount of power generated by wind in the first quarter of 2020

If you cast your mind back to February, apart from not having to stand 2m apart in shopping queues for elusive rolls of toilet paper you may have noticed that it was exceptionally windy. Yes, this was probably in part due to climate change, but that is not what we are going to talk about! We want to explore how we took advantage of the conditions to produce greener energy. As we are looking at the whole quarter March tells an interesting tale regarding lockdown and how much energy was saved because of that too.

In the first quarter of 2020 44.6% of the UK’s energy was generated by renewables. Fossil fuels accounted for just 32.8% of generation with nuclear and imports making up the rest. Source

power generated by wind in the first quarter of 2020

Source Drax Electric Insights (another brilliant interactive graph).

Was more green energy produced in February due to high winds?

Feb 2020 Wind figure: 34.5%  of monthly supply (2019 Feb figure 21.3%, Jan 2020: 29%, Mar 2020: 28%)

In February during Storm Ciara for a short period on the morning of Saturday 8 February, wind generated 56% of the UK’s electricity, a new record at about 15GW of power! The day that followed was the highest wind generated power day to date at 44.26%. Nuclear was the second most abundant provider at just 18.4% with gas at 17.7%. Sadly the fall out from Storm Ciara meant that many people lost power to their homes all together because of infrastructure damage, so it isn’t all about massive winds, but the data does give us encouraging signs that we are on the right trajectory to becoming far less dependent on gas and other fossil fuels. Each year records are breaking because more and more turbines are supplying the grid. The government target is to grow offshore wind with £50 billion of investment so that we are producing an average 40GW by 2030. This would supply almost all of our power with nuclear taking up the strain on very calm days. Source Current News.

How much energy was saved due to Coronavirus lockdown in March 2020?

March is interesting because it shows how much energy has been saved due to the lockdown that began on the 23rd. In the first week of March demand was averaging 35.9 GWs, the second week was at 33.9 GW and the third at 33.4 GW. In the 4th week when lock down commenced we see a drop to 30.5 GW as people are working from home and industry is using less energy, but temperatures were also rising which affects demand significantly. As lockdown really took hold, demand sees an even more significant drop to 29 GW in the week commencing 29th March and 26 GW in the week commencing 5th April, which is about where it has stayed since. Data source Drax.

How much greener will we be over the whole of lockdown and will it change attitudes to the environment?

As lockdown continues analysis from energy consultants The Eco Experts have suggested that if we are locked down for 12 weeks we could save 29.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions! Source The Eco Experts.  

In a survey conducted by The Eco Friendly Living Co of 1000 adults – where changing attitudes to sustainable living brought on by lockdown were explored, 63% of people said they would switch to greener products afterwards, 62% would stop sending food to landfill and 48% would carry on living more sustainably after lockdown.

How do you feel about going greener after lockdown?

At zioxi we are committed to helping you use less energy in schools, universities and businesses. Our onView technology has an automatic green charging function that allows it to communicate with the national grid and forecast when the greenest times to consume energy will be over the coming 48 hours. When you are charging your laptops in your charging trolley, your rechargeable powerHub or your ipads in their charging cart you can be sure that you are only consuming energy at the times of day and night when power generation from wind turbines, solar, Hydro and biofuel is at it’s peak and carbon generation at it’s lowest. Our onView technology can also be implemented in desks, tables, lecterns and other power consuming items of furniture so power can be automatically turned off when not in use – amazingly a single PC & display can still consume 15W of power when in standby with screen off. Every little helps.