Clean energy delivered record amounts of power to homes and businesses around the country during the first three months of this year, according to official figures published yesterday that underscore the growing influence renewables wield on the UK electricity grid.
New data from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) revealed that renewables powered 26.6 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs between January and March 2017, a one per cent rise on last year’s figures and the highest ever level for quarterly production.
Onshore wind led the charge, with production up an impressive 20 per cent on last year thanks to increased capacity, although offshore wind saw production dip by two per cent due to lower wind speeds. Hydro production fell 15 per cent due to low rainfall levels, but solar soared 16 per cent to 1.7TWh on the back of increased capacity.
Meanwhile, levels of energy generated from coal power slumped from 15.8 per cent last year to 11.3 per cent in Q1 2017.
The clean energy industry cheered the news, hailing it as a sign of the UK’s quickening transition to a cleaner grid. “Renewable energy is a mainstream technology, which is cheaper and more advanced than ever,” RenewableUK’s executive director Emma Pinchbeck said in a statement. “Our innovative industries have matured to the point where we now reliably provide over 25 per cent of the UK with clean, sustainable power.”
Scotland in particular boasted a strong performance. Generation rose 13 per cent compared to the same period last year to hit record levels, while capacity soared 16 per cent.
“Scotland’s total installed renewable capacity – that’s the amount of renewable electricity we are capable of producing – now stands at 9.3GW – four times what it was only a decade ago,” Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish government’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, said in a statement. “These statistics reinforce our country’s reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse and are a vindication of the Scottish government’s energy policy.”