Hurricane helps U.K. wind power briefly overtake nuclear

Despite a rise in renewable energy production, the United Kingdom is intent on protecting its nuclear and natural gas industries.
By Brooks Hays  |  Oct. 23, 2014 at 12:46 PM
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LONDON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- As the European Union looks to set new emissions reduction targets in Brussels, the United Kingdom is coming off a significant energy production milestone. Thanks to the onslaught of high winds brought by Hurricane Gonzalo, wind turbines outproduced nuclear power plants on Tuesday -- supplying 14.2 percent of all electricity to nuclear's 13.2 percent.

The impressive news comes a few days after the country's wind energy sector set a daily production record, generating 6,372 megawatts and accounting for a fifth of the U.K.'s energy needs. Though U.K. wind power production is enjoying an upward trajectory, its recent successes haven't been without help.

Gonzalo's remnants brought gusts of up to 70 mph to the northern parts of the U.K. Tuesday's feat was enabled by the fact that low demand put little pressure on the power grid during the 24-hour stretch, allowing wind energy to share a larger portion of the supply burden. The nuclear power sector was also somewhat incapacitated, as a several nuclear plants were offline for repairs.

Still, it was a bright spot for renewables only a week after the country's environment secretary, Liz Truss, called solar farms a "blight on the landscape." Truss only recently took over the position from Owen Paterson, who repeatedly offended environmental advocates with his anti-renewable rhetoric.

"One would hope that the new Environment Secretary does not see it as her job to be as aggressively anti-renewable energy as her predecessor," Bob Ward, policy director at the London School of Economics' Grantham Institute, told The Independent. "Instead of a rhetorical attack on how ugly renewable energy is, she should be talking about the risks of climate change."

Despite the recent success of renewables like wind farms, it's believed the United Kingdom is pushing for more flexible green energy production targets at the EU meeting in Brussels this week -- intent on protecting the country's nuclear and natural gas industries.

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