Renewables smash quarterly electricity generation records

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NEW statistics released by the Government today show a massive leap in the proportion of electricity generated by wind and renewables in the first three months of this year.

The figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in its quarterly “Energy Trends” report show that renewables generated 47% of the UK’s electricity from January to March, beating the previous quarterly record of 38.9% set in the third quarter of 2019.

RenewableUK’s Head of Policy and Regulation Rebecca Williams, commented on the findings: “At the coldest time of year, wind and renewables rewrote the record books right across the board, keeping our nation powered up when we need it most.

“This is the clean energy transition written very large indeed.

“As the Government works with us on a massive expansion of renewables as part of the UK’s green economic recovery after the pandemic, you can be sure that the latest records, extraordinary though they are, will be broken again in the years ahead, as we phase out fossil fuels to reach net zero emissions.”

The main points for the first quarter of 2020 are:

  • Total energy production was 1.8 per cent higher than in the first quarter of 2019. Coal
    production reached a record low in the quarter, down 26 per cent on the same period last year.
  • Total primary energy consumption fell by 0.9 per cent. However, when adjusted to take
    account of weather differences between the first quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, total primary energy consumption fell by 1.0 per cent.
  • Final energy consumption (excluding non-energy use) was 0.7 per cent higher than in the first quarter of 2019. Domestic consumption rose by 4.5 per cent, potentially a result of increased home working from March 2020. On a temperature corrected basis, final energy consumption was up 1.0 per cent over the same period.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on energy production and consumption is relatively marginal
    for most fuels as the lockdown came into effect late into the quarter (23 March 2020).
    As noted above, there was some increase in domestic demand but also a sharp drop in
    transport demand resulting from a downturn in petrol sales (down 2.8 per cent) and a sharp drop in aviation fuel demand (down 14.2 per cent).
  • Renewables’ share of electricity generation (wind, solar, hydro and other renewables)
    increased to record 47.0 per cent in 2020 Q1, compared to 35.9 per cent in 2019 Q1, mostly due to increased capacity and higher wind speeds in February 2020. Wind and solar combined accounted for a record high of 32.2 per cent of electricity generation in 2020 Q1.
  • Low carbon generation reached a new record high at 62.1 per cent of generation, with
    fossil fuel generation reaching a new record low at 35.4 per cent with a sharp fall in gas
    generation. This is despite a fall in nuclear generation caused by maintenance outages.
  • Renewable electricity capacity was 47.4 GW at the end of the first quarter of 2020, an
    increase of 5.2 per cent on the same period a year earlier, mostly due to increased capacity
    for offshore wind generation.
    • Provisional calculations show that 13.2 per cent of final energy consumption in 2019
    came from renewable sources, up from 12.0 (revised) per cent in 2018, as measured
    against the UK’s target to reach 15 per cent by 2020 under the 2009 EU Renewable Directive.

Energy Prices covers prices to domestic and industrial consumers, prices of oil products and
comparisons of international fuel prices.

The main points for the first quarter of 2020 are:

  • Domestic energy supplier switching data for the first quarter of 2020 shows transfers
    between suppliers increased compared to the same period in 2019 continuing the upward trend in numbers of customers switching. The equivalent of 5.0 per cent of all electricity customers (1.4 million) and 5.1 per cent of all gas customers (1.2 million) switched during January, February and March 2020.
    • Unleaded petrol and diesel prices for mid-June 2020 are both 21 pence per litre less than prices for June 2019. Unleaded petrol in June 2020 was on average 106.4 pence per litre which is 17 per cent lower than the year before and diesel was on average 112.5 pence per litre, 16 per cent lower than 2019.

More detailed information is available here