UK renewable energy generation tops oil and gas for first time, analysis suggests

14th October 2019 | Commercial Energy

UK renewables generated more electricity than fossil fuel power plants over the past three months, in a new first for the country, analysis suggests. The months of July, August and September were the first quarterly period in which renewables outpaced fossil fuels since the UK’s first public power generating station opened in 1882, climate website Carbon Brief said.

Carbon Brief analysis found that in the third quarter of 2019, the UK’s wind farms, solar panels, biomass and hydropower plants generated an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours (TWh) of power. That is higher than the figure for power stations fired by coal, gas and oil, which generated 29.1 terawatt hours, the assessment showed. It is the latest milestone in the transformation of the UK’s power supplies, where just a decade ago some three-quarters of generation was coming from fossil fuels.

Renewable energy

In 2010, coal, gas and oil generated more than 10 times as much electricity as renewables. But since then electricity generation from renewables has more than quadrupled and demand has fallen, squeezing the share of power being generated by fossil fuels, Carbon Brief said.

In the third quarter of 2019, some 40% of UK electricity came from renewables, and on a monthly basis outstripped fossil fuels in both August and September – the first time that has happened in two consecutive months. And in the first three quarters of 2019, renewables outpaced fossil fuels on 103 of the 273 individual days, more than one-third of the days in the year so far.

The analysis, which is based on UK Business Department figures for the UK and BM Reports that cover the British grid and are adjusted to include Northern Ireland, is the latest to show the transformation of the grid. Earlier this year, Government statistics showed more than half of the UK’s electricity in 2018 was generated from low-carbon sources, with renewables and nuclear reactors providing 52.6% of power generation.

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