Nuclear and renewables provide record share of UK electricity

21st December 2017 | Commercial Energy

More than half of the UK’s electricity came from nuclear power stations and renewables between July and September, official figures show. The record high share of 54.4% from low carbon sources was a result of the rapid growth in solar and wind power, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

During the same period in 2016 the share for low carbon electricity stood at 50%, and in 2015 it was 45%.

The growth of green energy squeezed out fossil fuels, pushing the share of electricity generation from coal and gas plants to a record low of 42%. Including windfarms, solar panels, hydro schemes and biomass plants, renewables accounted for 30% of power in the third quarter. The all-time high was 30.7% in the second quarter of 2017.

“This latest record is yet another nail in the coffin for the claim that renewables cannot be a sizeable part of the UK’s electricity mix,” said Dr Jonathan Marshall, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

The three months were not as windy or sunny as the year before, but this was offset by new windfarm and solar installations. The share was also helped by the return to operation of a wood-burning unit at the Drax power plant in North Yorkshire, which was out of action the year before.

The green energy records are the latest in a string of milestones this year that demonstrate how dramatically and quickly the UK’s energy mix is changing. Britain went without coal for a day in April for the first time in more than 130 years. The country has since gone hundreds of hours without the polluting fuel in 2017, and coal generated just 2.9% of electricity between July and September.

Solar has set several records and now provides a sizeable amount of power in the middle of the day.

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