Low-carbon generation supplies half Britain's power

Low-carbon generation climbed to a record high in the three months to the end of September, supplying half of Britain's power, official figures have revealed.

The milestone came as coal’s share of the generation mix dropped to just 3.8 per cent – yet another record low after it fell to 5.8 per cent in the previous quarter

Renewables supplied a quarter of all electricity over the period, according to the latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Their share was up by 1.3 percentage points year-on-year due to increased capacity, higher wind speeds and lower overall electricity generation, which fell by 1.2 per cent to 75.4TWh.

Renewable output rose by 4.3 per cent to 18.8TWh but remained more than a fifth below the quarterly record set during the last three months of 2015. Onshore wind generation was up almost a fifth at 4.6TWh, offshore generation 3.8 per cent at 3.5TWh and solar generation nearly a third at 3.5TWh.

Outages at Drax meant bioenergy generation was down 14.5 per cent at 6.1 TWh whilst hydro output rose 11 per cent to 1.14TWh due to a sharp increase in rainfall.

Installed renewable capacity reached 33.4 GW by the end of September – an 11.3 per cent increase on a year earlier. Feed-in Tariff installations accounted for 5.8GW – nearly a fifth of the total.

The contribution from renewables was matched by nuclear plants which likewise generated a quarter of Britain’s power supplies. Their share rose by 3.3 percentage points year-on-year as output increased by 14 per cent to 18.9TWh following outages in the third quarter of 2015.

The closures of Ferrybridge C and Longannet in March and the conversion of one of Drax’s units from entirely coal to co-firing with biomass meant coal generation plummeted by nearly four fifths to 2.7 TWh. Gas generation helped to pick up the slack, rising by almost a quarter to 32.9 TWh. Gas' share of total output rose by 8.8 percentage points to 43.6 per cent.

For the twenty sixth straight quarter Britain remained a net importer of power, with interconnectors providing 6.2 per cent of electricity supplies. Consumption fell by 1.9 per cent year-on-year to 68.9TWh.


Shares of Electricity Generation

Source: BEIS


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