The share of renewable energy in the UK electricity mix hit a record high of 29.8% in Q2 2017 according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The increase reflected a mix of a growth in capacity, increased wind speeds and lower overall electricity generation.
It follows the publication of PwC’s low carbon economy index which found the UK is leading the way in reducing its carbon intensity, down 7.7% between 2015-16. It also found the change in carbon emissions related to electricity generation was down 6% between 2016-17 - as coals generation falls.
Nevertheless, while DBEIS’ statistics show renewable electricity accounted for 22.5 TWh in Q2 2017, it was still some 10% lower than the UK’s peak quarterly generation of 25 TWh in Q1 2017.
Electricity generated from onshore wind grew by 50% to 6 TWh and offshore wind generation increased by 22% to 4 TWh. Large increases in the capacity of onshore wind over the year were complimented by the higher wind speeds. Energy generated by hydroelectrics fell by 12.4% to 0.8TWh due to a 1.9% drop in average rainfall during the quarter.
Generation from bioenergy continues to make up the largest portion of the renewable energy mix at 7.7 TWh accounting for 34%. Within this there was an increase in generating capacity of biodegradable waste of 30% to 0.2 TWh.
In stark contrast coal’s share of electricity generation in Q2 2017 was just 2.1%, down 50% on Q2 2016. Indeed the announced phase-out of coal-fired power plants by 2025 led generators’ demand for coal to fall by 65% to a record low of 0.6 million tonnes.
Head of policy and external affairs at the Renewable Energy Association James Court said: "This is another milestone in the journey towards a more affordable, flexible, and consumer-focused energy system. This success has been facilitated by the rapid fall in cost for renewable technologies such as solar and wind, which are now the most cost effective means of new power generation. The government must address the policy barriers which have unnecessarily impeded their deployment over the last year and give the industry clarity around how the market will be structured in the 2020’s."