Power output from renewables reached a record high last year, generating approximately 33 per cent of the UK’s total in 2018… while the amount of electricity generated dropped to its lowest level in a quarter of a century.
This is according to new analysis from Carbon Brief, with low-carbon supplies now constituting a record 53 per cent of the total last year. This has mostly been put down to strong growth for wind, with the capacity of offshore windfarms nearly doubling… and more will move into an operational phase and generate energy during 2019, as well.
Solar generation rose by 11 per cent, while biomass generation also went up by 13 per cent, down to the reopening of a former coal plant at Lynemouth in Northumberland, which now runs on imported wood pellets. A fourth unit in Yorkshire was also recently converted to burn this fuel.
The UK has promised to phase out all coal plants come the year 2025 at the latest and these sites continued to close in 2018. Gas generation was seen to decline four per cent over the year, although it does still remain the single largest source of power generation in the UK, making up 39 per cent of the total last year.
It’s thought, however, that gas will be overtaken by renewables by the early 2020s – and if the UK is to meet its climate change targets, gas will have to contribute no more than 25 per cent of the total by 2030.
Energy Minister Claire Perry was quoted by iNews as saying: “This government’s decision to put the move to greener, cleaner energy at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy is truly paying off, with these figures showing a record year for renewables and electricity generated from low-carbon sources. We are investing more than £2.5 billion in low carbon innovation by 2021, helping this booming market to thrive, creating jobs, delivering clean energy and tackling climate change.”
Back in July last year, a government announcement confirmed the next competitive auction for the procurement of new renewable power capacity is, set to take place in May 2019. This means that the UK’s offshore wind capacity could be seen to double in the next ten years, coming after 2017’s successful contracts for difference auction that saw power costs from offshore wind farms fall by 50 per cent.
Contracts for difference mean that the offshore wind industry is able to slash costs dramatically. For example, the recent Hornsea Two project won an auction at the lowest price ever for a job here in the UK, cutting prices in half from a few years ago.
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