IN UK, NUCLEAR AND RENEWABLES GENERATED MORE ELECTRICITY IN 2017 THAN FOSSIL FUELS

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3 january 2018

[4C Note: For the full aticle, with many illuminating graphs, click on "Read More" below.]

Analysis: Low-carbon sources generated more UK electricity than fossil fuels in 2017

Simon Evans, Carbon Brief, Januarfy 2, 2018

For the first time in 2017, more than half of the electricity generated in the UK came from low-carbon sources, Carbon Brief analysis shows.

The milestone means that, between them, nuclear and renewables generated more electricity in 2017 than all fossil fuels combined. Within this total, wind alone generated more than twice as much electricity as coal, supplying more power in every month except January.

The UK electricity sector passed a string of other symbolic markers in 2017, from its first coal-free day since 1882 to new records for wind and solar generation. This lead NGO WWF to dub the year the “greenest ever” for electricity – with prime minister Theresa May tweeting her support.

Nevertheless, power sector emissions remain far above what will be needed to meet legally-binding UK carbon targets, while progress in decarbonising the rest of the economy is limited.

Mostly low-carbon

Last year, Carbon Brief’s analysis revealed that windfarms had generated more electricity than coal in 2016. This year’s analysis is based on a combination of data sources, chiefly half-hourly electricity generation data compiled by Dr Iain Staffell, lecturer in sustainable energy systems at Imperial College London, for the Electric Insights website. See the notes at the end for more on how the analysis was done.

The most striking finding is that low-carbon sources, for the first time, supplied more than half the total. The share from nuclear and renewables has doubled between 2009 and 2017, to reach just a shade over 50.0%.

Fossil fuels supplied 47.5% of generation in 2017, down from 75.4% in 2010. The lion’s share of today’s fossil supply is from gas, with coal generation having plummeted over the past five years (see below for more on this).

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