For the first time since the industrial revolution, renewable energy sources produced more electricity for homes and businesses in the UK than fossil fuels. This occurred in the third quarter of 2019 and the share of renewable electricity rose to 40% of all electricity produced.
This 40% of renewable energy was made up from solar panels, wind farms and renewable biomass plants and is the first time such energy sources have had a higher share of production since the first power plant which was brought into production back in 1882.
This achievement is in line with the predictions from the National Grid which were that 2019 would be the first year, since the industrial revolution, in which renewables and nuclear energy take over the gas and coal power plants.
The rise in offshore wind farms built within the past year are what have helped push renewables past fossil fuels. In the third quarter fossil fuels produced 39% of all electricity. This is seen as a major tipping point in Britain’s energy transition and recusing its carbon footprint.
Under 10 years ago, fossil fuels were making up to around 80% of the UKs electricity which was comprised of a roughly equal share of gas and coal plants. However the most recent Carbon Brief report has predicted that Coal power plants generate under 1% of all energy produced.
By 2025 all coal plants in Britain will be shut down, due to the ban which will be coming into place and even by next spring there will only be 4 coal plants left which are to be converted into gas plants.
Gas power plants are what make up the majority of fossil fuel production in Britain and accounted for 38% of overall production. Meanwhile, nuclear production accounted for just under 20% of all electricity produced.
Out of all the renewable energy sources, windfarms accounts for the largest production and produced about 20% of the UKs electricity due to the large increase in windfarms. Renewable biomass plants made up 12% of the energy produced, whilst solar power made up 6%.
One of the new windfarms which have contributed to these figures is the opening of the world’s largest offshore windfarms, the Hornsea One project. It began producing electricity in February of 2019 and reached a peak capacity of 1200 megawatts in October. Along with the opening of the Beatrice windfarm off the coast of Scotland, these two have more than doubled the total production of electricity from offshore windfarms in the UK.
This renewable record is one of the first major milestones in reducing Britain’s impact to climate change to 0 by the year 2050. In addition, there are plans for more offshore windfarms and other renewable projects underway which are only going to increase the amount of electricity produced from renewable energy. For example, the offshore windfarm sector hopes to triple in size by the year 2030 and generate more than one third of the UKs electricity.
Growth in the renewable energy sector also will lead to good prices for energy bills. The technology used in wind turbines and solar panels has drastically reduced in price in recent years, which will have a positive knock on effect to consumers with cheaper energy bills.