Low carbon electricity generation overtakes fossil fuels in UK for first time

In 2017, more than half of the electricity generated in the UK came from low-carbon sources for the first time according to Carbon Brief.

The combination of nuclear and renewables generated more electricity in 2017 than all fossil fuels combined. Within this total, wind alone generated more than twice as much electricity as coal.

WWF to dubbed the year the “greenest ever” for electricity.

Low-carbon sources, for the first time, supplied more than half the total. The share from nuclear and renewables has doubled between 2009 and 2017, to reach just a shade over 50.0%.

Fossil fuels supplied 47.5% of generation in 2017, down from 75.4% in 2010. The lion’s share of today’s fossil supply is from gas, with coal generation having plummeted over the past five years.

Changing energy mix

“Low-carbon” includes nuclear, bioenergy, solar, wind and flow hydro. “Fossil fuels” includes coal, gas and oil. “Other” includes pumped hydro, which stores the grid mix of fuels, as well as non-renewable wastes.

Over the past year, the largest increase in generation for a single source came from wind, which was up 31% to 49 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2017. The was due to capacity increasing by a fifth, but also due to more favourable wind speeds, up 7% in the first 11 months of the year.

However, nuclear remains the single largest source of low-carbon electricity in the UK – and the second largest source overall. It generated 70TWh in 2017, a figure that is virtually unchanged since the early 2000s, when a number of old reactors were closed down.

The other renewables also generated more in 2017 than in 2016. Solar rose 11%, on rising capacity, while biomass increased 4%.

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