Nigel Farage understates renewable energy generation

18 October 2021
What was claimed

In September 2021 there was a three-week period when renewables produced between 2% and 3% of the country’s electricity.

Our verdict

False. During the first three weeks of September, wind, solar and hydroelectricity accounted for their lowest share of total electricity generation during the month, but it was still between 10% and 19% on average, each day.

“On a good day wind energy can bring us 24%, 25% of our electricity needs… back in September there was a three week period when renewables produced between 2% and 3%.”

During his show on GB News, former UKIP and Reform UK leader Nigel Farage was discussing renewable energy and claimed that during September there was a three week period when renewables accounted for between just 2% and 3% of our electricity. A reader asked us to look into whether this was true.

It isn’t.

The first three weeks of September did see relatively low levels of renewable electricity production, but far above the levels Mr Farage claimed. After that, renewable production rose substantially.

On each day from 1 September to 21 September, hydroelectricity, solar, and wind power (a conservative definition of “renewable energy”) produced 10%-19% of Great Britain’s electricity.

Even if Mr Farage had meant to talk about wind energy alone, this produced at least 4%-14% of Great Britain’s electricity on each day during the first three weeks of September.

This uses a definition of “renewable” that does not include electricity which may have been produced by renewable sources but which came into Great Britain via interconnectors from mainland Europe and Ireland, and so isn’t split into generation types. 

Nor does it include electricity produced by other types of renewable energy. For example biomass (a renewable energy source, but one which both produces and consumes carbon dioxide) or pumped hydroelectric storage, where water in a hydroelectric plant is pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir, and released to drive turbines when needed. 

This data also mostly excludes electricity which is not connected to the transmission grid, such as small scale wind power. This can be quite substantial. National Grid estimates that the average generation of wind turbines which aren’t connected to the transmission network during September was equivalent to 4.4% of the total demand from the transmission system.

All of these limitations mean that the share of total electricity production from wind and renewables is probably higher than the figures presented above.   

During 2020, wind accounted for 24% of electricity produced across the whole of the United Kingdom. This is not just “on a good day”.

Full Fact contacted GB News for comment, but at the time of publication it had not replied to our emails.

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After we published this fact check, we contacted GB News to request a correction regarding this claim.

They did not respond. 

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