Renewables set second power generation record, but coal makes comeback as winter sets in

Coal (19.1%) nuclear (13.4%) and gas (46.5%)generate 79% of British electricity; 8pm 29/11/17
Coal (19.1%) nuclear (13.4%) and gas (46.5%) combine to generate 79% of British electricity; 8pm 29/11/17

For only the second time generation from low carbon sources (renewables plus nuclear) provided more than half of Britain’s electricity in the first six months of this year – with a record of 53.4 per cent compared to 46.7 per cent in the same period last year.

Renewables’ share of electricity generation increased from 25.3 per cent in 2016 Q2 to a record 29.8 per cent in 2017 Q2 due to increased capacity and better weather conditions, according to latest official data from the Dept. for Business, Energy and Industry (BEIS).

Nuclear’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 fewer days being lost to outages, with no change in capacity.

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.

But as the British electricity generation ‘meter’ shows in this image, as the winter draws in, the days get shorter and with less sunlight, coal is once again helping to keep the lights on.

The UK remains a net importer with 6.9 per cent of electricity supplied from net imports in the second quarter of 2017. (Chart 5.4)

The UK has four interconnectors allowing trade with continental Europe: England-France (2 GW capacity), England-Netherlands (1 GW), Northern Ireland-Ireland (0.6 GW) and Wales-Ireland (0.5 GW).

1 Dec 2017

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