Renewable energy technology generated more energy than fossil fuels during the third quarter of 2019. This is the first quarter where renewables outperformed fossil fuels since the UK’s first public electricity generator opened in 1882.
According to analysis from Carbon Brief, the UK’s wind farms, solar panels, biomass and hydro plants are responsible. Together they generated more electricity than the combined output from power stations fired by coal, oil and gas.
During July, August and September, an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours were generated from renewable energy technology sources. Traditional fossil fuel power stations generated 29.1 terawatt hours (TWh).
More ‘Higher Renewable Days’ Than Ever before
Carbon Brief is a UK-based website covering the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy. The deputy editor and policy editor for Carbon Brief, Simon Evans, extrapolated on the analysis, saying, “There have already been nearly as many higher renewable days in the first three quarters of 2019, at 103, as there were in the whole of 2018, which saw 107 such days.
“There were only 58 such days in 2017, just 16 in 2016 and 12 in 2015. The first ever day when UK renewables generated more electricity than fossil fuels was 11 April 2015.”
In 2010, Mr Evans explained, the 288TWh generated from fossil fuels accounted for around three-quarters of the UK total. That amount was also more than ten times as much electricity as the 26TWh generated from renewable energy technology. This means that electricity generation from renewable sources has more than quadrupled over the last decade.
Fossil Fuel’s Shrinking Share
The report also revealed that electricity generation from fossil fuels has halved since 2010. It was 288TWh as stated, but is now just 142TWh in the most recent twelve-month period. Gas is contributing most of fossil fuel’s share because most coal plants are closing as part of a planned phase-out. Coal should be completely eliminated by 2025.
Figures from the third quarter of 2019 are especially bleak news for coal power. While 39% of UK electricity generation came from fossil fuels, 38% of that was from gas alone. Coal power and oil combined to generate just 1% of fossil fuel’s share.
The 40% share of energy generated by renewable energy technology included 20% from wind, 12% from biomass and 6% from solar panels. Most of the remaining amount of generated energy was mostly generated by nuclear power stations, approximately 19%.
Government Minister Pleased with Progress
The minister for energy and clean growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, said, “The renewables record is yet another milestone on our path towards ending our contribution to climate change altogether by 2050.
“Already, we have cut emissions by forty percent while growing the economy by two thirds since 1990. Now, with more offshore wind projects on the way at record low prices we plan to go even further and faster in the years to come.”
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