Britain now has more electricity generated from renewable energy than it does from fossil fuels.
This is remarkable from the country which was literally the home of the world’s first coal-fired power station.
Even more remarkably, the turnover has taken place in less than a decade.
Drax Electric Insights and Imperial College, London, which monitor the UK’s energy usages, say that “at the start of this decade, Britain had seven times more generating capacity from coal, oil and gas as it had from renewables. But since their peak, 40% of Britain’s fossil-fuelled plants have retired as they reached the end of their lives or became uneconomical, meaning Britain now has just 41.2 GW of fossil capacity.
Meanwhile, renewable capacity has grown six-fold since the start of the decade; so wind, solar, biomass, hydro and waste1 now stand together at 41.9 GW of capacity, outstripping fossil plants for the first time”.
Wind farms are the biggest source of renewable energy, with the recently completed Walney 3 farm helping to tip the scales when it opened in September.
It took 19 years to build Britain’s first 5GigaWatts (GW) of wind capacity, but it is now the world leader, with 45% of global capacity.
Wind now provides more than 20 GW of capacity, but for a country that is not known for ita glorious sunshine, solar chips in 13 GW. Biomass is now the third largest renewable generator, and formed one-fifth of new renewable capacity added in 2017/18.
The fossil fuel fall has come mainly from coal plants retiring. One quarter of the coal generated capacity was shuttered just last year as major wind farms were added to the grid. More coal plants are set for retirement in 2019.
The next stage for the revolution of electricity in the UK is putting in place the technology and adjusting the regulations recommended in the government’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan.
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