Renewables smash records but UK still reliant on fossil fuels

Renewables energy generation is unquestionably becoming a vital part of Britain's energy mix reaching record levels, according to the latest government figures.

Today (September 29) the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published its quarterly energy trends and prices review looking at nuclear, renewable and fossil fuel use.

According to the figures from April to June this year, renewable energy supplied 9.6% of the UK’s electricity – up from 6.3% in the same quarter in 2010.

During the same period nuclear power supplied 21% of the nation’s electricity with gas (44%) and coal (22.1%) making up the vast majority of the rest.

The UK also increased it import levels of coal to 35.7%, leading some commentators to voice concerns over the UK’s long-term energy security.

Consultants WSP Future Energy head of grid services, Simon Cowdroy, said: “The 35.7% increase in the volume of coal imported to the UK reflects the need to replenish coal stocks that were heavily used during last winter’s cold snap.

“However, it demonstrates coal-fired generation still plays a crucial role in securing the UK’s energy supplies.

“The combined effects of the Large Combustion Plant Directive and the carbon floor price will result in the closure of the majority of the UK’s traditional coal-fired power stations in the coming years.

“Although today’s figures show a rise in renewable generation, this may not be enough to prevent a shortfall in UK generating capacity.”

RenewableUK’s director of policy, Dr Gordon Edge, was more optimistic about the figures.

He said: “We’ve reached a historic high, with renewable energy now providing almost 10% of the UK’s electricity.

“These statistics show that the wind industry making a tremendous contribution to the nation’s energy supply.

“Wind is now providing enough power to supply nearly three and a quarter million homes in the UK.

“The amount of wind can of course vary from month to month, but year on year, we can expect the role of wind energy to continue to grow, providing us with a secure alternative to expensive fossil fuel imports.

“This will stabilise energy prices, as well as generating tens of thousands of jobs, and helping us to build a new low carbon economy.”

Luke Walsh

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