Renewables record record UK electricity generation as coal-fired sinks to new low

Renewable electricity’s share of generation reached a record 29.8% of the UK mix in Q2 2017, while output from coal fell 50% to a record low of 2.1% – according to the latest quarterly energy trends published yesterday by the UK government.

Renewables’ share of electricity generation increased from its 25.3 per cent share over the same period in 2016 due to increased capacity and better weather conditions (see pie-chart, above).

But the overall rosy renewables picture was clouded after analysis from the Renewable Energy Association of solar PV deployment also showed that while solar power MW capacity grew by over 50% between January and September 2015, growth declined to 18% between the same months in 2016 .

The REA said that is because of Government policy restricting the routes to market for solar power technology – which separate government data also reveals to be the cheapest source of new electricity generation capacity.

The REA spokesman added: “This is another milestone in the journey towards a more affordable, flexible, and consumer-focused energy system.

“This success has been facilitated by the rapid fall in cost for renewable technologies such as solar and wind, which are now the most cost effective means of new power generation.

“The Government must address the policy barriers which have unnecessarily impeded their deployment over the last year and give the industry clarity around how the market will be structured in the 2020s.   

“We must now also replicate this progress within the heat and transport sectors. This means deploying renewable technologies which are able utilise resources such as waste, bioenergy and low carbon power, coupled with smarter and more efficient housing. There is no single ‘silver bullet.’”

Meanwhile, nuclear energy’s share of generation increased from 21.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2016 to 23.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2017. This was due to a reduction in ‘down time’ for routine maintenance and inspection over the year.

Coal’s share of generation decreased from 5.9 per cent in 2016 Q2 to a record low of 2.1 per cent in 2017 Q2, whilst gas’ share of generation decreased slightly from 44.2 per cent to 41.3 per cent. Since 2015 there has been a large scale switch in generation from coal to gas.

The UK remains a net importer with 6.9 per cent of electricity supplied from net imports in the second quarter of 2017.

27 Oct 2017

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