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UK’s renewable output rocketed 27% in 2017

Renewable output in the UK rose 27% to 96TWh in 2017, according to new research from Imperial College London scientists, published in collaboration with Drax.

The latest Electric Insights report reveals that 50% of power generation in the UK last year came from low-carbon sources.

Interestingly, a press release announcing the report notes that this 96TWh of electricity could power the whole of the UK - in 1958. Then, 96% of the UK’s 91TWh demand came from coal.

In 2017, the Electric Insights report notes that carbon emissions from electricity consumption fell 12%, a saving equivalent to taking one in seven cars of Britain’s roads.

 

Biomass a big player

Of the total 2017 grid supply, 25% came from biomass, wind hydro and solar. Wind was the most important player, generating 15% of the UK’s electricity, up from 10% in 2016.

Drax has upgraded half of its power station in North Yorkshire from coal to sustainable biomass. The company has plans to convert a further generating unit this year. According to the company, it is now the ‘biggest single site renewable generator in the UK and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.’

Commenting on the report, Drax Power CEO Andy Koss said: “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.”

Dr Iain Staffell, a lecturer in Sustainable Energy at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College, put the findings of the report in perspective: “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.”

 

The full, latest Electric Insights report is available here.





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