The last couple of days have shown nuclear power’s importance to decarbonising the UK. The weather has been very still and so the UK’s wind turbines have not been producing much electricity. At times, wind power has been generating less than 1% of its maximum output and providing less than 1% of the UK’s electricity demand. As a result, gas generators have been running at higher levels, providing more than 60% of the UK’s electricity and leading to an increase in the UK’s carbon emissions over this period.
Fortunately, nuclear output has been at a consistent level over this time of low wind – as it is whatever the weather – without which the UK’s carbon emissions would have been even higher. The UK needs more wind and solar power along with battery storage to meet its Net Zero target, but it also needs more nuclear to ensure we don’t have to burn gas when the wind is still for extended periods which can last longer than the couple of days we’ve seen this week.