Imperial College London

UK energy generation from renewables has best year ever, says Imperial research

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Wind turbines on a hill overlooking fields

The latest Electric Insights report shows that Britain’s electricity supply had its greenest year in 2017.

The report, part of a series led by Dr Iain Staffell from the Centre of Environmental Policy, shows that 50% of Britain’s electricity came from low carbon sources. In fact wind, solar, biomass and hydro produced enough energy in 2017 to power the whole country 60 years ago.

The UK is a leading light in renewable energy, many of our international partners look to us for leadership ... we are showing how several forms of renewable energy can work together to provide a clean, secure and affordable electricity system Dr Iain Staffell Centre for Environmental Policy

The report details how wind had its best year ever, providing 45% more power to the UK grid than in 2016.  This report credits this to higher wind speeds and the completion of several onshore and offshore wind farms.

“We are an island nation surrounded by the Atlantic and North Sea, if there is one thing we can rely on it is having plenty of winter storms,” says Dr Staffell, “2017 was a remarkable year for Britain’s renewables and wind power has shown how it is, and will continue to be, a major contributor to our energy needs.”

Wind was not the only contributor to Britain’s great year for low carbon energy generation. A combination of wind, solar, biomass and hydro produced 96 TWh in 2017, enough to power the whole of Britain in 1958.

The report highlights that these kinds of numbers mark a longer term trend of diversification of the UK’s electricity supply, and how far low-carbon energy has come in recent years. This move to low carbon generation means that carbon emissions from Britain’s electricity consumption fell by 12%, the equivalent to taking one in seven of Britain’s cars off the road.

Generation mix in Britain over the last eight years.  Generation from fossil fuels has almost halved since 2010, demand has fallen by a tenth, and output from renewables has increased six-fold.
Generation mix in Britain over the last eight years.  Generation from fossil fuels has almost halved since 2010, demand has fallen by a tenth, and output from renewables has increased six-fold.

“The UK is a leading light in renewable energy, many of our international partners look to us for leadership,” says Dr Staffell, “Our energy mix is our strength, and we are showing how several forms of renewable energy can work together to provide a clean, secure and affordable electricity system.”

The report is the 6th Electric Insights report, the work was commissioned by Drax Group. Dr Staffell produces the report each quarter in conjunction with other experts at Imperial College London.

Reporter

Neasan O'Neill

Neasan O'Neill
Faculty of Engineering

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 7044
Email: n.oneill@imperial.ac.uk

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