The UK smashed 13 clean energy records last year in the ‘greenest year ever’ for electricity production in the country, according to WWF analysis of National Grid data.
The sweep of new records was powered by the rise of green energy on the system, WWF said last week, with highlights including the first full day since the Industrial Revolution with no coal power, record spikes in solar and offshore wind generation, and record low prices for offshore wind.
The year’s performance continues a trend of falling power sector emissions in recent years, as wind and solar replace coal power on the grid. Since 2012 Britain has halved carbon emissions in the electricity sector, and now ranks as the seventh cleanest power system in the world.
“It’s been an exciting year managing the many ‘network firsts’ – from a day where we operated the system with zero coal power, to one where over half of Great Britain’s energy demand was met by renewable generation,” Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid, said in a statement. “I’m sure there will be more records broken in 2018 and we’re ready and excited to play our part.”
Summer 2017 was the greenest summer for electricity production ever, with almost 52 per cent of UK electricity provided by nuclear or renewables. In fact, one day in June 2017 saw wind, nuclear and solar power produce more power than gas and coal combined, the first time this has ever happened on the UK grid.
“2017 has been an amazing year for renewable electricity in Britain; we have never been cleaner or greener – and we are on course for an even better year in 2018,” WWF-UK’s head of energy and climate Gareth Redmond-King said in a statement. “Climate change is wreaking havoc on our nature and wildlife, but we are at last facing up to the challenge, turning our backs on polluting fossil fuels and embracing a new clean future.”
But WWF warned that although the UK is decarbonising, more needs to be done to ensure investment continues to flow into green power. In particular, the charity called for a “detailed plan” to ensure onshore wind and solar can continue to deploy at scale, as well as more effort to clean up Britain’s heat network, which still overwhelmingly relies on gas power.
In related news, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) today released updated emissions and energy projections for the UK from 2017 to 2030. The updated figures suggest renewables will play a key role in decarbonising energy, with less reliance on gas in the future.
However, as first set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, the government is still expecting the UK to fall slightly short of its legally binding emissions reduction targets under the Climate Change Act, projecting emissions will miss their target by five per cent for the period 2028-2035.