Record 50% of UK’s electricity from low carbon sources

Half of the UK’s electricity was generated by low carbon sources for the first time during the third quarter of 2016.

The milestone was reached thanks to further solar and wind farms being connected to the grid and following a strong performance from Britain’s nuclear power stations.

Half of the total came from nuclear, with the other half from renewables. The tally rose from 45.3% during the third quarter of 2015.

Record low for coal

Coal provided just 3.8% of the UK’s electricity, a record low, following a 28% year-on-year fall in output due to the closure of the Ferrybridge C and Longannet sites.

Gas’s share of generation rose to 43.6% from 34.8%, helping to meet the shortfall from coal.

Generation from solar climbed by 30%, while bioenergy fell by 14.5% mainly due to maintenance work on the biomass furnaces at Drax.

Onshore wind generation rose by 19.4%, while offshore wind edged 3.8% higher.

Separate figures showed that more than two-fifths of the UK’s electricity came from renewables on Christmas Day.

Green sources provided 41% of the UK’s electricity, up from 25% for Christmas 2015, according to the Electric Insights report, from Imperial College London.

Renewables industry welcomes figures

Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive at trade body RenewableUK, said: “The Government took the right decision when it announced the phasing out of coal, and its confidence in low carbon generation has been repaid by growth in the sector.

“Renewables are now part of our energy mainstream, helping us modernise the way we keep the lights on by building new infrastructure for the generations to come.

“Wind is playing a central role as a reliable part of our new modern energy system, delivering reliable low carbon power at low cost.”

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the proportion of the nation’s electricity supplied by wind, hydro, solar and other renewables has reached an all-time high of 59.4% in 2015 – up from 49.7% in 2014.

Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at industry body Scottish Renewables, said the figures underlined the contribution that Scotland is making to the UK’s efforts to clean up its energy system.

“Despite the closure of Cockenzie coal-fired power station in March 2013 Scotland is exporting a record proportion of its electricity generation to the rest of the UK, in large part thanks to the growth of renewables.

“However future progress is hugely uncertain, with large scale onshore wind, solar and hydro power all locked out of government schemes to support investment in new electricity generation capacity.”

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