Could renewables become the top UK power source of 2020?
Europe has recently sailed past one of the major milestones of any major energy transformation program. London-based Ember has published a report outlining that renewables now account for a greater share of the energy mix than fossil fuels, and are now firmly the EU’s main source of electricity. In the first half of 2020, just 34% of Europe’s power came from coal, gas and oil, versus the 40% that came directly from solar, wind and hydro sources. Use of renewable energy also went up by over a tenth during that same period, and carbon dioxide emissions fell by nearly a quarter.
The UK, also exposed to the favorable weather conditions that have driven Europe’s recent successes, has much to shout about. The Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES), also known as Westminster’s “energy bible,” documents forensic detail on British energy use. The latest report, published towards the end of July, revealed that the UK has broken yet more records, with 37.1% of all energy generated throughout 2019 coming from renewable sources. The combined domestic output of wind, solar and hydropower is documented as being up by 11% when compared to the previous year, and bioenergy output is also up by nearly 2%.
This rapid growth has been attributed to “coal plants coming offline ahead of the 2024 Government deadline, and the rapid expansion of the nation’s offshore wind sector.” Wind power has contributed enormously to the figures, with 10% of energy produced coming from offshore installations and 10% coming from turbines peppered around the British countryside.
Renewable UK’s deputy chief executive Melanie Onn said the figures prove “Just how far we’ve come in the revolution in power generation,” especially given that the UK was only generating 7% of its energy needs from renewables just a decade ago.
And the news gets better. In the third quarter of 2019, the UK’s windfarms, solar panels, biomass and hydro plants generated “more electricity than the combined output from power stations fired by coal, oil or gas,” according to authoritative analysis by Carbon Brief.
Marking the first-ever quarter where renewable generation outstripped fossil fuels in British history, the figures underline the potential and progress of green industries in industrialized, western nations.