New analysis from British electrical power generation company Drax has revealed that the country generated 96 terawatt-hours of renewable electricity in 2017, enough power to supply the entire country — if the country in question were Britain in 1958.
In a move which is definitely a little bit of a tease, Drax Group published findings this week highlighting the scope of Britain’s renewable energy output, which grew by 27% in 2017 to top out at 96 terawatt-hours (TWh). To put that into perspective, however, Drax Group decided to have a little fun, headlining its analysis by saying “Britain now produces enough renewable electricity to power the entire country 60 years ago.”
Specifically, in 1958, Britain had 52 million people and used 91 TWh of electricity, according to the latest Electric Insights report, published by researchers at Imperial College London in collaboration with Drax.
Obviously, a lot of time has passed since then. Coal accounted for 92% of electricity back in 1958, and only accounted for 7% in 2017.
60-year old comparisons aside, carbon emissions from British electricity consumption fell by 12% in 2017, with 50% of power generation coming from low-carbon sources. Wind generation produced 15% of Britain’s electricity, up from 10% in 2016 and more than twice the output of coal. The share of fossil fuels in the overall mix fell from 80% in 2010 to 50% in 2017.
Daily average generation mix during 2017
“Generation from coal continues to fall and is now the preserve of colder months as opposed to being the mainstay of generation as it was in 1958,” explained Dr Iain Staffell, from Imperial College London. “60 years ago, the power system emitted 93 million tonnes of CO2; in 2017 renewables managed to produce the same amount of electricity by emitting just three million tonnes. The share of fossil fuels on the system has fallen from 80% to 50% since 2010 and the effect that shift in the balance of power is having in terms of lowering our carbon emissions is striking.”
“This report shows the great progress we have made in terms of decarbonising the energy sector,” added Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO. “We can expect more days without coal on the system as we gear up to the UK coming off coal in 2025 and we are proud of the work that we have done to support this as the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.
“As the share of fossil fuels falls and more intermittent renewables come onto the system, we need to think about how we maintain stable, secure power supplies. Flexible, responsive technologies such as biomass help to support and balance the grid as more renewables come on to the system.”
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