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Milestones & hard slogs; electricity

You may have an electric Aga range cooker, you may want to install one, you may want to convert yours. Lots of reasons for this of course but the environmental case is strong and getting stronger. We now have data on the UK's energy generation for 2022 and it's fascinating! First though we also saw a huge milestone just before the new year.

If your Aga range cooker is electric then on the morning of the 29th December it was effectively running on 100% low carbon electric. Low carbon sources (wind, nuclear, hydro and biomass) met all of our electricity needs. We were even exporting electricity to Belgium, France, Ireland, Netherlands & Norway! That has never happened before!

It's fair to say of course that demand is lower than normal on a mild late December morning when everyone is on holiday but it is still an impressive achievement underlined by the figures for the day as a whole. 

Just 56g of carbon per kW/h with wind providing nearly 60% of all our power. Extraordinary figures. Most of the power being imported was low carbon too, from French nuclear plants, meaning for an entire day low carbon electricity powered 90% of the worlds fifth or sixth largest economy (we swap places with India depending on exchange rates!). That is something to be proud of! 

The wind does not blow all the time of course and we still need gas and even coal power stations to fill those gaps, especially when the sun disappears too! This is why electricity still costs money even though wind is free! 

So whats the big picture across a year? Thanks to the incredible data sources for power, mostly via the National Grid, we already know for 2022!

Carbon emissions across the year were 177g kW/h, down 3.3% in a single year. Wind power generated 27% of our electricity in 2022 vs 22% in 2021. 

The figures are fascinating and if you are a bit geeky like me you can see them here for yourself and play with dates and the information presented. 

It is what comes next that is really exciting. By 2030 wind power alone should be able to provide 40GW on a day like the 29th December. Total demand was only 31GW so we'd be able to sell a lot of power to our neighbours should they be becalmed! The interconnectors to mainland Europe mean power can flow from the windy regions to the calm! 

Also by 2030 the XLINKs connection to Morocco will be up and running sending 3.6GW of power to the UK. Thats via a (big!) 2,360 mile cable under the sea, don't tell me the UK doesn't build anything anymore! 

Bring all this up and you'll get some eye rolling from some people (did you roll your eyes?! I look forward to your email!), it's true of course that electricity is not all the power we use. We use a lot of oil (diesel) for transport and gas for heating. The point is though that you have to start somewhere and moving everything we can, including Land Rovers and Aga range cookers, to electricity is the best and only choice.

It's a hard slog to a low carbon future. It's not easy and it's a lot of work. Sometimes it really is one cooker at a time. It's the only responsible choice. 

Matthew Bates

Matthew Bates

Matthew is from a farming family near Bath and a graduate of King's College London who decided not to follow the 'standard' path into banking or the law. He has been working with these fabulous cookers in some form or another since 2003. Matthew runs Blake and Bull from beautiful Bradford on Avon, near Bath. Alf the golden retriever makes sure the working day finishes at 6pm sharp - dog walk time!