On Easter Monday the UK’s electricity system recorded its lowest ever carbon intensity at 39g CO2 per kWh. This impressive achievement was the result of low demand combined with high wind and solar generation, together making up a whopping 60% of UK electricity supply.
This new record builds on the success of 2020, the strongest year yet for renewable energy generation. Government figures released in March show how renewables generated 42.9% of the UK’s electricity last year. This is a mammoth achievement as a decade ago they were responsible for just 7%. We’ve also seen huge steps forward for wind power, which provided nearly a quarter of all our electricity. This makes the UK a leader among G20 countries for share of power from renewable sources.
For the first time ever, renewables generated more electricity than fossil fuels taking us one step closer to our vision of a clean, smart energy system. Coal accounted for just 1.7% of all electricity generated in the UK, with government targets to end its use completely by the end of 2024. The UK is now reducing its coal powered electricity faster than any other G20 country.
Lockdown brought a reduction in electricity demand in spring 2020, coupled with windy and sunny weather. Exceptionally strong wind experienced during storms Dennis and Ciara in the first quarter were also a factor. It is encouraging to see how the grid coped effectively with these significant changes and bodes well for a renewables dominated future.
“It’s fantastic to see renewables and wind energy leading the way on our journey to net zero. It’s great to reflect on how far we have come in such a short time. Thrive was founded with a mission to power the clean energy transition and seeing this progress reinvigorates our drive to achieve this. However, we’re still far from the finish line and we need to ensure we keep up the momentum if we’re to reach net zero emissions by 2050.” Matthew Clayton, Managing Director, Thrive Renewables
Public support is firmly behind addressing the climate crisis and reaching net zero. The UK Government’s most recent Public Attitude Tracker found that 81% of the British public are concerned about climate change and 76% of were aware of the UK’s net zero goal. With the G7 leaders’ conference in Cornwall in June, followed by COP26 in Glasgow in November, the world will be looking towards the UK to be a leader in driving us closer to a carbon free world.