Low-carbon power records all-time high share of UK electricity mix

The UK's clean energy transition received another welcome boost this week as Government figures revealed that low-carbon sources reached a record-high 53.4% share of electricity generation in the second quarter of 2017.

Falling energy consumption, all-time high levels of renewable generation and record low levels of coal output all contributed to the low-carbon power sector’s increased share of the mix, which is up from 46.7% in the corresponding quarter of 2016.

Increased wind capacity and wind speed pushed renewables’ share up to 29.8% in Q2. Gas accounted for 41.3%, nuclear generation accounted for 23.6%, while coal delivered a record low of only 2.1%.

Scottish success

The figures show that Scotland is on course for a record year of renewable electricity generation. Scottish renewable electricity output in the first half of 2017 was 17% greater than the same period last year, according to UK Government statistics.

Renewables delivered more than half of Scotland’s electricity consumption in 2016, figures show, while Scotland delivered around 24% of total UK renewable electricity.

Scottish Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Today’s statistics show that Scotland is on track for a record year of renewable electricity generation, and that our renewable energy sector is stronger than ever. This reflects our commitment to clean, green energy building, and we will continue to support the renewable energy sector in Scotland.”

Scotland aims to deliver 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. The country’s success to date is in part due to large strides in wind and tidal energy generation. Last month, planning permission was granted for what will be Scotland’s largest solar farm, a 20MW project in the north-east of the country.

Commenting on the latest statistics, Scottish Renewables’ deputy chief executive Jenny Hogan said the ongoing success of Scotland’s renewable energy industry is an achievement of which “everyone in Scotland should be proud”.

Hogan said: “We are harnessing our natural resources – in effect our notoriously bad weather – to produce clean energy which is powering our economy and helping reduce the amount of carbon emitted by our power sector.

“The future for Scotland’s renewable energy industry, with the right support from Government, is bright,” she added.

Wales pushes for global leadership

These figures top off a positive week for the UK’s clean energy drive, after the Welsh Government revealed plans to boost the renewable share of its electricity consumption to 70% by 2030.

Electricity generation from renewables in Wales has trebled since 2010, and last year provided 32% of the country’s total consumption. Welsh Environment Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths said the “stretching but realistic targets” would put the country at the forefront of the world’s decarbonisation transition.

“Wales must be able to compete in global low-carbon markets, particularly now we face a future outside the EU,” Griffiths said. “The ability to meet our needs from clean energy is the foundation for a prosperous low-carbon economy.

“This is why I am today announcing targets to focus action across the country and to capture the benefits for Wales.”

Griffiths also confirmed a new target for 1GW of renewable electricity capacity in Wales to be locally owned by 2030, and for new renewable energy projects to have an element of local ownership in the next three years.

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie