Last year was on track to be the “greenest year ever” for Britain’s power sector due to record-breaking renewable generation in 2017, according to environmental campaign group WWF.

Data provided by National Grid shows the UK now has the fourth cleanest electricity sector in Europe and the seventh cleanest in the world, having halved carbon emissions since 2012.

WWF has been working with the system operator to provide forecasts for the carbon intensity of the power system. The organisation published the figures shortly before the beginning of the new year, saying National Grid had confirmed a total of 13 renewable records were broken over the course of 2017.

National Grid director of system operator Duncan Burt, said: “It’s been an exciting year managing the many network firsts – from a day where we operated the system with zero coal power, to one where over half of Great Britain’s energy demand was met by renewable generation.”

Nevertheless, WWF warned the UK is behind schedule to meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets and urged the government to take action to address the shortfall.

“2017 has been an amazing year for renewable electricity in Britain. We have never been cleaner or greener and we are on course for an even better year in 2018,” said WWF head of energy and climate change Gareth Redmond-King.

“Climate change is wreaking havoc on our nature and wildlife, but we are at last facing up to the challenge, turning our backs on polluting fossil fuels and embracing a new clean future. But we need to show more ambition by bringing forward the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars to 2030.”

The 13 renewable records:

  • First 24-hour period without coal generation since the industrial revolution (21 April).
  • Longest period without coal generation (40 hours 35 minutes, 28 to 29 October)
  • Greenest summer ever, with almost 52 per cent of electricity generation from low carbon sources (21 June to 22 September).
  • The lowest amount of carbon produced by electricity production at any one moment (73 gCO2/kWh, 2 October).
  • The largest amount of electricity produced from renewable sources at any one moment (19.2 GW, 21 March).
  • First time ever when wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined (7 June).
  • Most electricity production from solar power at any one moment, providing a quarter of Britain’s electricity supply (8.9GW, 26 May).
  • Highest percentage of solar produced relative to national demand (26.8 per cent, 2 July).
  • Most wind power produced in a day (285GWh, 7 December).
  • Most offshore wind generation at any one moment (4.3 GW, 1 October).
  • Most electricity production from all wind generation at any one moment (12.4 GW, 6 December).
  • Most electricity production from hydropower at any one moment (4 GW, 27 February).
  • Record low strike price at the second Contracts for Difference subsidy auction (£57.50/MWh, 11 September).

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