The use of national grid-based power stations has always been essential for electricity output in the UK but there are signs that this is steadily changing as we are transitioning to renewables to do the job. In 2018 renewables supplied us with 33% of our electricity which included solar, hydro, wind and biomass. UK generation from power stations hasn’t been this low since 1994.
The production and output from power stations fell last year by 1% compared to the year before, and since 2005 they are down by 16%. Renewables, however, remain strong as their growth continues, with 2018 being the greenest year yet at 33% generation. This is an increase from 29% last year and a major rise from 2009 when renewables only counted for 6.7%.
Not only do renewables play a part, but so also does overall efficiency within homes (including appliances). Small changes are being made by a more environmentally conscious public, with homes and business alike becoming more careful of their energy use and carbon footprint. It is thought that households becoming more efficient saved £290 a year between 2008 and 2017
Simon Evans, policy editor at The Group, said:
“It could be a combination of more efficient appliances, energy-saving lightbulbs and, more recently, LEDs. Then there’s supermarkets installing better fridges, industry using more efficient pumps. Across all of those businesses, efficiency will have been going up. And of course, there’s the changing nature of industry in the UK.”
Last year there were fears that coal could make a comeback due to high gas prices but there is no evidence that this has been the case, with output falling by 25% along with nuclear falling by 8% and gas by 4%.
Renewables were boosted last year by new wind farms and biomass plants which were connected to the grid and increased electrical generation. Offshore windfarms doubled in 2018 with more projects set to open in 2019. Solar was also successful in rising by 11% and 13twh. Biomass increased by 13% during 2018, thanks to a project in Yorkshire which saw a coal plant reopen to run on wood pellets and drax.
By 2030, the UK must meet climate change goals and ensure that gas is overtaken and provides no more than 25% of generation. It will certainly be interesting to see what 2019 brings for renewables and electricity generation – will more records be broken?