Zero-carbon power outstrips fossil fuels for first time in 2019

Zero-carbon power sources provided more electricity than fossil fuels in the UK for the first time last year, data released yesterday by the National Grid has revealed.


The figures show that a combination of wind farms, solar and nuclear power, and energy imports delivered 48.5% of Britain’s electricity in 2019, compared with 43% from fossil fuels.

The remaining 8.5% of electricity was generated by biomass, with the National Grid describing 2019 as “the cleanest year on record for Britain.”

“As we enter a new decade, this truly is a historic moment and an opportunity to reflect on how much has been achieved,” said National Grid CEO, John Pettigrew.

“At National Grid, we know we have a critical role in the acceleration towards a cleaner future and are committed to playing our part in delivering a safe and secure energy system that works for all.”

The latest milestone marks a dramatic change in the UK’s energy mix, with fossil fuels accounting for 75.5% of electricity back in 1990, and zero-carbon sources just 24.4%.

It comes prior to the midpoint between 1990 and 2050 – the year in which the UK has committed to achieve at least a 100% reduction in emissions based on 1990 levels.

Meanwhile, official government figures have shown that renewables generated a record quarterly amount of electricity between July and September last year, outperforming gas for the first time ever.

The data reveals that renewable sources provided 38.9% of the UK’s electricity in the third quarter of 2019, beating the previous record of 36.8% set in the final three months of 2018.

Low-carbon electricity from renewables and nuclear provided a record high of 57.3% in the third quarter, while generation from fossil fuels decreased to a record low of 40.1%.

The findings also show that wind is the principal source of renewable generation, providing 19% of the UK’s electricity in the third quarter of 2019.

“We’ve reached a historic tipping point with renewables outperforming gas for the first quarter ever," said RenewableUK head of policy and regulation, Rebecca Williams.  

"We need to use a wide range of technologies to tackle dangerous climate change, including onshore wind as well as offshore, innovative floating wind and tidal power.”


Image credit: ©iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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