UK electricity generation falls to lowest level since 1994

The UK generated less electricity in 2018 than at any point since 1994 amid growing energy efficiency regulations and environmentally friendly consumer behaviour.


That is according to analysis of government data by researchers at Carbon Brief, which also found that renewables generated a third of the country’s electricity last year – the highest share on record.

In combination with nuclear, the findings show that low-carbon sources accounted for 53% of electricity generation, with the contribution from fossil fuels lower than ever.

“Low-carbon sources now provide the majority of the UK's electricity generation, underlining just how much the energy industry has transformed itself in recent years,” Energy UK chief executive, Lawrence Slade, said.

“We need to maintain and accelerate this progress, so it is vital the cheapest forms of renewables like solar and onshore wind can contribute fully to our decarbonisation drive without further delay.”

The analysis shows that electricity generation in the UK last year was 16% lower than in 2005, despite the population increasing from 60 million people to 66 million.

Carbon Brief said this was largely thanks to product energy efficiency regulations, energy-efficient lighting, environmentally conscious consumers and economic restructuring, with GDP also continuing to grow during that time.

Overall, the amount of electricity generated per person in the UK has fallen by almost a quarter since 2005, down to its lowest level since 1984.

The combined share of electricity generation from fossil fuels fell to 46% last year, with coal plants continuing to close, and remaining stations running for fewer hours.

At the same time, the capacity of offshore wind farms nearly doubled, while solar generation increased by 11% and biomass by 13%.

Gas generation was down 4%, although this remains the single largest source of electricity in the UK, accounting for 39%, with renewables expected to make up the largest share in the early 2020s.

Slade said the analysis shows what an important role energy efficiency can play in cutting electricity demand, reducing emissions and cutting costs for consumers.

“Which underlines why we are calling for the government to rollout a National Energy Efficiency Programme across the UK for domestic and non-domestic premises,” he added.


Image credit | iStock

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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