The race for renewables has stepped up a gear, and for the first time its capacity has overtaken the capacity of fossil fuel for the UK.
So why is this?
The capacity from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass has tripled in the last five years making the yield 42 GW compared to that of fossil fuels’ 40.6 GW. This would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago according to experts!
This is great news for the UK and our never-ending battle to combat climate change. These figures will need to rise continuously in the future as the power from fossil fuels was still greater overall at 40% compared to the 28% from renewables.
Wind and solar continue to lead the way in renewables providing 20 GW with solar providing 13 GW of capacity. We are still talking capacity and not generation however as these figures are not to be sniffed at. This has led to real and positive change in recent years.
Dr Iain Staffell who was the lead researcher said:
“Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and this quarter saw a major milestone on the journey.”
Coal usage has dropped as providers have been hit by UK carbon tax. In 2012 coal provided around two fifths of electricity but this year, thanks to solar and wind power, it has provided less than 6%.
Solar and wind have of course been helped by weather and emerging new technology. Last year saw more wind and sunlight than usual. Nevertheless, the figures look good and it has been said that ministers intend to phase out coal completely by 2025. With coal plants set to close and offshore wind farms in talks, we are well on the way to achieving this. Click here for wind maps of the UK.
A spokesperson for the department of business said:
“The UK leads the world in tackling climate change and this shows the time of unabated coal fired electricity is being ended by a cleaner, greener future increasingly powered by renewable energy.”
We still however have a way to go. Oil and gas are still the cheapest form of energy, but the cost of renewables is falling, and falling fast! By 2020 its hoped that renewables will compete on price with fossil fuels and that’s thanks to the improvements in technology. Fuel prices are at an all-time high and new ways to balance these costs will be key to our energy transition success. Over time it will become clear that using renewables will almost certainly become the smarter decision.