Renewables supply almost half of UK electricity

Almost half of the UK’s electricity was supplied by renewables in the first three months of this year, according figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Renewables generated 47 per cent of the UK’s electricity from January to March, beating the previous quarterly record of 38.9 per cent set in the third quarter of 2019. The Government said this was mostly due to increased capacity and higher wind speeds in February.

Wind generated 30 per cent of the UK’s power in Q1 (14.7 per cent from onshore wind, 15.2 per cent from offshore), beating the previous record of 22.3 per cent set in Q4 of 2019. When other low-carbon forms of generation, including biomass and nuclear, are added, the proportion rises to 62.1 per cent, up from the previous record of 51.8 per cent.

Renewable electricity generation was a record 40.8TWh in Q1, beating the previous record of 32.5TWh set in Q4 2019. Wind generated 26TWh, outperforming the previous high of 19.4TWh in Q4 2019. Onshore wind provided 12.8TWh, beating 9.8TWh set in Q1 2019, offshore wind provided 13.2TWh, beating 10.2TWh in Q4 2019.

Low carbon generation (renewables and nuclear) reached a record high at 62.1 per cent, with fossil fuel generation reaching a record low at 35.4 per cent with a sharp fall in gas generation. BEIS noted that this was achieved despite a fall in nuclear generation caused by maintenance outages. Coal production reached a record low in the quarter, down 26 per cent on the same period last year.

RenewableUK’s head of policy and regulation, Rebecca Williams, said: “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”.

BEIS said the impact of COVID-19 on energy production and consumption was relatively marginal for most fuels as the lockdown came into effect late into the quarter.

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