However, the preliminary results issued by DECC today reveal that last year coal power saw a rise of 12.8% to become the biggest single source of UK electricity in 2012.

Coal produced 42.8% of the UK’s electricity in 2012 and in a role reversal gas consumption fell from 40% in 2011 to 28% in 2012. Coal’s share of generation is at its highest level since 1996, with gas’ share at its lowest since 1996.

The International Energy Agency has said that more coal, which is the most polluting source of electricity, is going to Europe as burning coal in the US is less economical due to shale production.

However, an increase in the use of renewables saw a rise in electricity generation to 11.7% in the third quarter of 2012, which equalled the record share set in the final quarter of 2011.

Onshore wind showed the highest absolute increase in generation in the third quarter of 2012, increasing by 38%, from 1.9 TWh in the third quarter of 2011 to 2.6 TWh, as a result of increased capacity.

Offshore wind generation also increased substantially, from 1.1 TWh to 1.7 TWh – a 54% increase.

In addition, generation from plant biomass more than doubled on a year earlier, which DECC says was due to Tilbury B power station’s conversion from coal in late 2011.

Solar photovoltaics (PV) capacity also increased – up by 169MW in the third quarter of 2012. Due to the continued high uptake of the GB Feed in Tariff scheme, it now makes up 11% of all renewable electricity capacity.

Conor McGlone

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