In a recent update from the Solar Trade Association, we have learned that Maximised levels of solar generation have ensured the delivery of a new coal-free record period for the grid.

Coal power has been offline since 00:00 on Friday 10 April 2020, [1] and since then the UK has seen more than 1 terawatt hour of solar power put on the grid in that period [2] – enough to boil water for over 25 billion cups of tea or drive 6.7 billion kilometres in a Nissan Leaf. [3]

STA Chief Executive Chris Hewett said:

“Solar is playing a critical role in delivering a fossil-free grid and cleaner, cheaper power to Britain. As we look towards a net zero future, solar will become an increasingly greater part of the energy mix, tackling high power prices, climate change, and biodiversity loss.”
“With the Government beginning to consider how best to kick-start the economy following the Covid-19 crisis, it has a golden opportunity to place renewables at the heart of its recovery package. Solar in particular can provide a glut of quality green jobs and growth at short notice, with your average solar park able to be built in less than six months, and home installation in less than a day. The industry is ready to help drive the revival.”


Last week’s bumper generation levels delivering over 11% of UK electricity demand and setting both a new daily peak generation record of 9.68GW at 12:30 on Monday 20 April 2020, and weekly generation record at 485.41GWh. [4] Clear skies and cool temperatures in recent weeks have provided optimal conditions for solar efficiency.

As part of a planned phase out, use of coal for electricity generation has fallen sharply in recent years, from 70% in 1990 to only 2.3% in the past 12 months. [5] Over the past 28 days it has accounted for only 0.7% of UK power, compared to more than 57% from low-carbon sources. The UK Government has committed to phasing the high-carbon fuel out by 2024.

Notes:

[1] Drax – Electric Insights: https://electricinsights.co.uk/

[2] Sheffield Solar – PV_Live solar generation tracker. Recorded a figure of 9.68GW at 12:30pm on 20 April 2020. This figure may be subject to retrospective change and there is a 90% certainty that the exact figure will fall between 9.65GW-9.71GW: https://www.solar.sheffield.ac.uk/pvlive/#

[3] Exeter City Futures – Energy Explainers: What is 10TWh?: https://www.exetercityfutures.com/energy-explainers-10twh/

[4] Solar Trade Association – UK solar peak generation record broken amid fall in pollution levels: https://www.solar-trade.org.uk/uk-solar-peak-generation-record-broken-amid-fall-in-pollution-levels/

[5] MyGridGB – Electricity Data, Last 12 Months: https://www.mygridgb.co.uk/last-12-months/

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