The UK has surpassed its renewable and clean energy records, with more than half of UK power demand met by low carbon sources in the third quarter of this year as energy from fossil fuels fell to an all-time low.
Marking a huge milestone in the UK’s transition to low carbon power, from July to September low carbon sources met 52.7 per cent of the country’s power demand while fossil fuel’s share fell to 46.9 per cent – the lowest ever. It comes after clean energy tipped over the 50 per cent share mark for the first time in July.
The latest announcement was made on the eve of the UN Climate Summit in Poland which kicked off a day early on Sunday.
The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy said the new record was set thanks to strong wind, solar, and bioenergy output. Renewables accounted for 26.1 per cent of the total clean energy output.
Earlier this week the National Grid confirmed Storm Diana pushed UK wind power generation to a new record, topping 12GW for the first time.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry hailed the performance as another major milestone in the UK’s decarbonisation strategy.
She said: “These records in renewable and low-carbon generation are landmark moments for the UK in the fight against climate change.
“Coming just ahead of the climate negotiations in Poland these figures show that the UK is continuing to lead the way in powering past coal, while the move to a low-carbon economy is sustaining almost 400,000 clean jobs across the country.”
“The UK is continuing to lead the way in powering past coal”
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry
This week is also the 10th anniversary of the UK’s landmark Climate Change Act. This has played a key role in underpinning the policies and investments that have seen UK greenhouse gas emissions fall 40 per cent on 1990 levels. Renewables have gone from around five per cent of the power mix a decade ago to over 25 per cent now.
Winds of change
RenewableUK’s executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “It’s great to see British wind power setting new records at one of the coldest, darkest, wettest times of the year, providing clean energy for people as they came home, switched everything on, turned up the power and cooked dinner.”
She added that wind power could have a significant positive impact on electricity bills, as the cost of new offshore wind has fallen spectacularly. It is now cheaper than new gas and nuclear projects, with onshore wind becoming the cheapest power source of all.
The records also come in the same week as E:ON launched its new Rampion offshore wind farm. The 400MW project will see turbines installed off the south coast of the UK for the first time.
However, the government can still expect to face calls at COP24 to step up its decarbonisation efforts. This could include new policies to drive the next phase of energy decarbonisation, following evidence that renewables investment has slowed in recent years. There are also growing fears that high gas prices could trigger a revival for coal power.