Solar Beats Out Coal In UK For 2nd Whole Month Ever

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For the second month this year, solar electricity generation beat out coal in the UK across the whole month of July, after doing it for the first time ever in May.

Earlier this year, UK-based Carbon Brief, referring to figures provided by Sheffield Solar, revealed that solar power had generated more electricity during the month of May than coal had. Specifically, solar power in the UK generated an estimated 1,336 GWh of electricity in May, while coal only generated 893 GWh.

This week, Carbon Brief updated its original story with figures that showed solar had once again beaten out coal, this time for the whole month of July, generating an estimated 1,273 GWh of electricity, two-thirds higher than the 778 GWh that coal generated.

chart (2)Total electricity generation from UK solar and coal during calendar months from April 2016, gigawatt hours (GWh). Sources:Sheffield Solar and Gridwatch. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

Solar in the UK has steadily been gaining ground, and these generation figures are proof of this fact. Further, in July, the UK Solar Trade Association (STA) revealed that the country’s solar industry broke a new record in June, generating 23.9% of UK electricity demand. With almost 12 GW of solar PV installed across the country, the STA estimate solar is able to power the equivalent of 3.8 million homes.

“The UK has successfully deployed almost 12 GW of solar across the UK, providing nearly 25% during peak generation,” said Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association. “This is what the country and the world needs to decarbonise the energy sector at the lowest price to the consumer. The Government’s adoption of the fifth carbon budget is a good long-term signal in this regard.”

The visible increase in solar levels has been somewhat matched by a decrease in coal-fired power generation across the UK since the start of 2016.

chart (3)Shares of total UK electricity generation met by solar and coal during January to May 2016 (%). Sources: Sheffield Solar and Gridwatch. Chart by Carbon Brief.

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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