Imperial researchers find carbon emissions from the power sector at 60 year low


Wind farm

Research at Imperial College London shows that during 2016 carbon emissions from electricity generation fell as renewables replace coal.

The latest report in the Electric Insights series shows that over the final three months of 2016 low carbon sources provided 40% of Britain’s electricity. The work, led by Dr Iain Staffell from the Centre of Environmental Policy, also notes that low carbon peaked at a record-breaking 81% over the three days between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

“It is great to see these kinds of figures here in Britain just 12 months after the Paris Accord was signed, but it’s just a first step,” says Dr Staffell, “I believe that the Carbon Price Floor has played an important role here and we need to see a continued commitment to effective policies like this to help us continue the low-carbon transition.”

It wasn’t just the UK benefitting from this renewable boom. In 2016 Britain was a net exporter to France, limited only by the interconnector being damaged during Storm Angus in November. 2016 also demonstrated that energy price volatility is increasing as low or even negative prices are also becoming more frequent because of growing output from wind and solar farms.

The report is the second in the Electric Insights series. The first report was published on 14 November 2016, and they are both available from the Electric Insights website. Subsequent reports will be released every three months, and live data on the British electricity system is available to explore on the website.

Electric Insights is commissioned by Drax Group facilitated by the College’s consultancy company, Imperial Consultants. Dr Staffell produces the report in conjunction with Professor Tim Green, Director of Energy Futures Lab; Dr Rob Gross, Director of the Imperial Centre for Energy Policy and Technology; and Professor Richard Green of Imperial College Business School.


Neasan O'Neill

Neasan O'Neill
Faculty of Engineering

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