Renewable energy sets new records

New figures show 2017 is set to be the greenest ever for the UK’s energy supply.

National Grid data showed 13 renewable energy records have been broken, including the highest output recorded in a single day from wind and solar.

The year also saw the first full day since the Industrial Revolution without coal power.

Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid, said: “It’s been an exciting year managing the many ‘network firsts’,”

New era of grid operation

He said 2017 represented a new era of grid operation.

“We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system which poses an exciting challenge for us in ensuring the supply and demand is matched second by second,” he said.

“As this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important. We have an expert team of forecasters who monitor a range of data, to forecast just how much electricity will be needed over a set period.”

The UK’s power system is the fourth cleanest in Europe and the seventh cleanest in the world.

Separate figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) showed nearly one-third of Great Britain’s electricity was generated from renewable sources during the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest official figures.

Renewables accounted for 30% of energy generation, up from 25.4% during the third quarter of 2016.

Yet the latest figure lagged behind the 30.7% record set during the second quarter of 2017.

Capacity increase

When nuclear power is taken into account, low-carbon sources provided a record 54.4% of generation, up from 50.2% a year earlier.

A further 4.4GW of renewable capacity was added year-on-year, taking the total to 38.9GW.

Half of the increased capacity came from onshore wind, with offshore wind accounting for a further quarter of the total.

Output from wind, solar and natural-flow hydro was 11.9% higher year-on-year thanks to increased renewable capacity.

Meanwhile, figures from analysis website MyGridGB said British wind farms generated more electricity than coal plants on more than 75% of days this year.

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Energy and Climate Change at WWF, welcomed the raft of statistics.:

“2017 has been an amazing year for renewable electricity in Britain; we have never been cleaner or greener - and we are on course for an even better year in 2018. Climate change is wreaking havoc on our nature and wildlife, but we are at last facing up to the challenge, turning our backs on polluting fossil fuels and embracing a new clean future. But we need to show more ambition by bringing forward the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars to 2030.”

> Download BEIS's figures