What real leadership looks like: UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time

Remember when President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House and Reagan took them down?

UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time

Renewable capacity has tripled in past five years, even faster growth than the ‘dash for gas’ of the 1990s

A turbine at Green Rigg windfarm in Northumberland

A turbine at Green Rigg windfarm in Northumberland. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/Guardian

The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels’ has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic.

The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants.

Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, said the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the “dash for gas” in the 1990s.

However, the amount of power from fossil fuels was still greater over the quarter, at about 40% of electricity generation compared with 28% for renewable sources.

In total, 57% of electricity generation was low carbon over the period, produced either by renewables or nuclear power stations.

In terms of installed capacity, wind is the biggest source of renewables at more than 20GW, followed by solar spread across nearly 1m rooftops and in fields. Biomass is third.

In the past year, coal capacity has fallen by one-quarter, and there are only six coal-fired plants left in the UK.

Coal operators have been affected by the UK’s carbon tax on electricity generation, as well as competition from gas, though they have enjoyed a recent fillip from high gas prices.

Fortunes for new gas power stations are mixed. This week, the German energy company RWE said it was freezing plans for a new 2.5GW gas plant in Tilbury, Essex. However, UK-listed SSE said it had broken ground on Tuesday on a new 840MW gas power station in Lincolnshire.

The Imperial College London research, which was commissioned by the gas, coal and biomass company Drax, also found the cost of balancing the energy system had risen to a 10-year high of £3.8m per day between July and September.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our reporting as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important because it enables us to give a voice to the voiceless, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

FULL STORY & COMMENTS HERE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.