Renewables accounted for over one third of total electricity generation, report reveals

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RENEWABLES had a record-breaking year on 2019 with wind playing a major role, the latest annual report on energy generation in the UK reveals.

The Digest of UK Energy Statistics, published today by the Department for Business, Industry and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), confirms that renewables provided a record 37.1% of the UK’s electricity last year, up from 33.1% in 2018.

Key findings of the report included:

  • Primary energy production fell marginally in 2019, down 0.2 per cent on a year
    earlier. The fall was due to reduced output from gas and nuclear. Overall, fossil fuel
    production decreased, with coal output falling to a record low level.
  • Final energy consumption fell by 0.9 per cent, as demand for heating decreased
    particularly in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2018. On a temperature
    adjusted basis, final energy consumption also fell by 0.9 per cent.
  • Total renewables accounted for 12.3 per cent of total energy consumption in 2019,
    up from 11.2 per cent in 2018.
  • Electricity generated from renewable sources in the UK in 2019 reached a
    record 37.1 per cent of total UK electricity generation, up from 33.1 per cent in
    2018. This increase reflected a 6.5 per cent rise in renewable generation capacity to
    47.2 GW.
  • Despite reduced nuclear output, low carbon electricity’s share of generation
    increased from 52.6 per cent to a record 54.4 per cent, driven by the increase in
    renewables generation.
  • Provisional BEIS estimates suggest that overall emissions fell by 14.2 million
    tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) (3.9 per cent) to 351.5 MtCO2 between 2018
    and 2019, driven mainly by the changes in the fuel mix used for electricity
    generation.

BEIS noted that 2019 was the first year in which renewables accounted for more than one third of total electricity generation, mainly due to increased onshore and offshore wind capacity.

Wind alone generated a record 20% of UK electricity last year (10% from onshore wind and 10% from offshore wind).

Wind also set new records in the annual quantities of power it provided, with onshore and offshore each generating 32 terawatt hours (TWh).

Renewables overall provided 121TWh.

The total annual amount of electricity generated from all sources in 2019 was 325TWh.

Low carbon generation (renewables and nuclear) hit a record 54.4%, despite nuclear falling to 17.3% as a result of outages and maintenance according to BEIS.

Gas generated 40.6% while coal fell to an all-time low of 2.1%

RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn commented on the findings: “At a time when so many things seem uncertain, the consistent rise of renewables, keeping the UK powered up, bringing billions in investment in new energy infrastructure and creating highly skilled jobs all over the country, is a terrific success story we can all be proud of.

“Today’s figures confirm just how far we’ve come in the revolution in power generation; in 2010 less than 7% of our electricity came from renewables – now it’s 37%.

“But we know that to tackle the existential threat of climate change, we need to decarbonise not just electricity, but also heating and transport, where progress has been glacial.

“We need innovative power sources like floating wind, wave and tidal power, renewable hydrogen and a massive expansion in battery storage to get us to net zero emissions as fast as possible – so there’s no time to rest on our laurels.”