Fossil fuels deliver record low share of UK electricity

Fossil fuels generated a record low 41% of electricity in the UK between July and September this year, plummeting from the 74% recorded back in the third quarter of 2010.



That is according to a quarterly update from market monitoring firm EnAppSys, which said the dramatic fall over the last eight years was largely thanks to a rise in renewable energy generation.

A drop in demand, and small increases in nuclear-powered electricity, have also contributed to the declining use of fossil fuels, while sourcing from coal-fired power plants has dropped from 60% to 6% in just five years.

“The impact of this evolution towards a cleaner fuel mix is that gas remains the primary source of generation for Great Britain, with only a nominal share coming from coal,” EnAppSys, said.

The data shows that renewables were only generating 5.5TWh of electricity back in the third quarter of 2010, rising to 14.8TWh three years later, and up to 18.2TWh in the latest quarter.

This has led to renewable projects now consistently providing the second largest share of electricity generation in the UK by primary fuel groups, marginally higher than contributions from nuclear plants.

Net electricity imports from the continent and Ireland still contribute highly, but far less than gas, renewables and nuclear – the three primary fuel sources.

Electricity prices remained high in the latest quarter with the EU’s carbon price now sitting above €20(£17.4)/te CO2, compared with a low of €5/te CO2 back in the summer of 2017.

EnAppSys said a drop in the carbon price would see renewable projects experience declining returns, but that a price increase should boost their profitability.

“These increases do, however, mean that households will pay higher prices for their electricity use and this effect will extend if EU carbon prices continue to rise, but decease if prices start to fall,” the company said.

“The short-term beneficiary of increased carbon prices are speculative traders who bought carbon certificates in anticipation of a price rise, but longer-term this benefit will be passed through to the tax beneficiaries.”


Image credit | iStock

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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