Worst fears confirmed as coal power makes resurgence in 2012
Official figures from DECC have confirmed that the amount of UK electricity generated using renewables increased significantly in 2012 compared with 2011.
However, while low carbon electricity's share of generation increased from 28% in 2011 to 30.5% in 2012, coal power rose by 9% to make up 39.5% of electricity generated, becoming the biggest single source of UK electricity in 2012
In a role-reversal, gas generation fell by 27.5% - a decrease of 13 percentage points on 2011 - mainly due to high gas prices.
Nuclear's share of generation increased by 1 percentage point on 2011, to 19.5% of the total. Hydro generation decreased by 8% from 2011 as a result of lower rainfall in the main hydro areas, whilst wind rose by 31.5%, of which offshore wind rose by 45.5%, due to increased capacity. Overall hydro and wind generation was 21% higher than in 2011.
Energy consumption rose across all sectors except transport. Domestic consumption rose by 10% due to the cooler weather in 2012, with temperatures throughout the year on average one degree cooler than in 2011. However, DECC claims that on a seasonally and temperature adjusted basis, final energy consumption was broadly unchanged.
Preliminary results last month had suggested that 2012 saw a modest increase in renewable energy (link) but the official figures released today also confirm that coal imports were much higher with a 37.5% increase.
The World Wide Fund for Nature UK head of energy policy Nick Molho said the statistics were worrying and demonstrated the Government was not ensuring energy security or decarbonising the UK's energy system.
"Increased reliance on fossil fuel imports is the main problem we face - it's driving up our emissions, bills and reliance on countries like Qatar for our gas supplies. The sad thing is that it's Government policies, notably driven by the Treasury, that are causing this," he said.
Molho added: "The UK's sharp increase in net import dependency is also bad for our trade balance and shows the urgency of the UK developing its natural renewable energy resources, which would also be good GDP and jobs, as shown in a recent report by Cambridge Econometrics."