UK Energy Data for 2016: Coal dives 60%, gas soars 46% and renewables remain steady at 25%

The Dept. for Business and Energy (BEIS) has published its annual energy ‘bible’ – the Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) for 2016.

This shows that there was a switch in the main sources of electricity generation away from coal to gas generation.

  • Generation from coal fell by 60 per cent, as a number of plants closed or switched to burning biomass
  • Gas rose by 46 per cent
  • Renewables’ share of generation was stable at 25 per cent in 2016, the same as in 2015.

Increased renewables’ generation capacity was handicapped by less favourable weather conditions for solar and wind generation.

Click this link to get the full 250-page report, with charts and statistics.


DUKES summary

In 2016, UK energy production was up 1.2 per cent on a year earlier.

The rise was driven by growth in UK Continental Shelf output with both oil and gas output up. There was also growth in biofuels.

However, coal output decreased to record low levels.

Imports and exports in 2016 were both down; overall net imports decreased though they still accounted for 36 per cent of energy used in the UK.

Primary energy consumption was down 1.4 per cent; and on a temperature adjusted basis primary energy consumption was down 2.3 per cent continuing the downward trend of the last ten years. UK temperatures were above normal, but there was a small increase in heating degree days than in 2015.

Final energy consumption rose by 1.6 per cent as demand for heating increased with temperature adjusted final energy consumption up by 0.9 per cent on 2015 levels, mainly due to increased energy use in transport.

Fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy supply, but now accounts for 81.5 per cent, a record low level.

Supply from renewables increased, with their contribution accounting for 8.9 per cent of final consumption on the EU agreed basis

The UK’s eight nuclear power stations produced more than one fifth (21%) of the UK’s electricity last year, with intermittent renewables (wind, solar, established hydro and biomass) making up the remainder.

Output from wind, solar and hydro reduced in 2016 as the country experienced less wind, rain and sunny conditions than in 2015. Generation from hydro sources fell by 14%, and onshore and offshore wind generation fell by 8.4% and 5.8% respectively.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Provisional BEIS estimates suggest that overall emissions fell by nearly 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) (7.4 per cent) to 374.1 MtCO2 between 2015 and 2016, driven by the changes in electricity generation.

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, commented:  “More than ever the UK needs to ensure it continues to have a secure, reliable and available supply of low carbon power to meet our changing requirements.

“While low carbon electricity < = renewables + nuclear>  generation reaching 45% in 2016 demonstrates progress, there is much more to do to meet our climate commitments and maximise the economic opportunities for clean growth in the UK.

“Nuclear power provides a high-density source of electricity which complements the variability of other low carbon power sources, which all play their part in reducing emissions, improving air quality and limiting our reliance on volatile fuel prices. 

 “With the distinction between electricity and energy diminishing as more low carbon power is projected to be used for transport and heat as well as power, we need a balanced, low carbon mix to enable us to meet rising demand. Nuclear power is an integral part of meeting that challenge.”

28 July 2017

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