1881 is the last time more energy was produced from renewable sources in the UK than from burning fossil fuels. In 1882, the first electricity generating power plant began operating in England and it’s been all downhill from there until Q3 of this year, when renewable energy sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels.
Ten years ago, 80% of all the electricity produced in the UK came from fossil fuels, according to The Guardian. In the third quarter of 2019, the amount of renewables in the energy mix rose to 40% versus 39% for fossil fuels. The balance comes from nuclear power plants. Just 10 years ago, fossil fuels accounted for 80% of the UK energy production.
Today, only 1% of all electricity in the UK comes from burning coal, claims Carbon Brief, as more British coal plants are shutting down ahead of a 2025 ban. Gas-fired power makes up the bulk of the dwindling share of fossil fuels in the energy system at 38%. Nuclear power provided slightly less than a fifth of the UK’s electricity in the last quarter, the report said. Wind power accounted for 20% of the UK’s electricity in the third quarter. Renewable biomass plants made up 12% of the energy system while solar panels contributed 6%.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK minister for energy and clean growth, said the renewables record is “yet another milestone on our path towards ending our contribution to climate change altogether by 2050. Already, we’ve cut emissions by 40% while growing the economy by two thirds since 1990. Now, with more offshore wind projects on the way at record low prices we plan to go even further and faster in the years to come.”
Luke Clark, of Renewable UK, tells The Guardian that the industry hopes to treble the size of its offshore wind sector by 2030, which will allow it to generate more than a third of the UK’s electricity. Under the Labour party’s plans for a Green Industrial Revolution, the offshore wind industry would grow by a factor of five within a decade with the addition of 37 giant offshore wind farms and 70,000 new jobs. “The cost of new offshore wind projects, for example, has just fallen to an all-time low, making onshore and offshore wind our lowest-cost large scale power sources,” Clark says.
The next generation of offshore wind farms is expected to cost about £40 for every megawatt hour of electricity generated, which is less than the average market price for electricity on the wholesale energy markets today. “If government were to back a range of technologies — like onshore wind and marine renewables — in the same way as it is backing offshore wind, consumers and businesses would be able to fully reap the benefits of the transition to a low carbon economy,” Clark adds.
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