Latest data reveals renewable power sources provided almost half of the UK's electricity during first three months of 2020
Renewable energy accounted for almost half of the UK's electricity during the first three months of 2020, as a record-breaking start to the year for wind power combined with dwindling coal generation combined to push clean sources of power to yet another all-time high.
Latest official data released yesterday shows renewable electricity made up a 47 per cent share of the UK's electricity mix during the first quarter of this year - a period falling mostly before Covid-19 lockdown measures were enforced in mid-March - smashing the previous quarterly record of 39 per cent.
Total renewable power generation from January to March 2020 was up almost a third on the same quarter last year thanks in large part to the wind sector, with offshore wind generation in particular surging a whopping 53 per cent and onshore wind also up 29 per cent, both sending wind records tumbling in the process.
The record breaking start to 2020 came as a result of favourable weather conditions for wind turbines as well as a significant growth in overall renewables capacity, which stood at 47.4GW at the end of March this year, according to the data.
That capacity figure marks a 5.2 per cent increase on the first quarter of 2019, mostly due to a 19 per cent - or 1.6GW - surge in offshore wind capacity.
Rebecca Williams, head of policy and regulation at trade body RenewableUK, hailed the UK wind and wider renewables industry's achievement.
"At the coldest time of year, wind and renewables rewrote the record books right across the board, keeping our nation powered up when we need it most," she said. "This is the clean energy transition written very large indeed.
"As the government works with us on a massive expansion of renewables as part of the UK's green economic recovery after the pandemic, you can be sure that the latest records, extraordinary though they are, will be broken again in the years ahead, as we phase out fossil fuels to reach net zero emissions."
Windpower and renewables smash quarterly electricity generation records - it's the clean energy transition written very large indeed - RenewableUK media release: https://t.co/Vg7ZWnwYuQ #windpower pic.twitter.com/QdU1utKOyI— RenewableUK (@RenewableUK) June 25, 2020
The success of renewable generation during the period spurred UK low carbon generation - including both renewables and nuclear - to also hit a new record share of 62.1 per cent of the UK's electricity mix, despite nuclear generation falling slightly due to maintenance outages.
Fossil fuel generation, meanwhile - mostly coal and gas - provided just over a third (35.4 per cent) of the UK's electricity during the first quarter, marking the first time in history fossil fuels have provided less than 40 per cent of UK power.
Coal power - which has largely been offline altogether in recent months - again fell to record low generation levels, plummeting 26 per cent on the same period last year, according to the statistics, which were released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Similarly encouraging progress for renewable energy has also been seen across the pond in the USA, where biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind electricity together produced significantly more electricity than coal during the first four months of 2020.
Data released yesterday by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) points to continued, strong growth in solar and wind power, which are both expanding faster than any other energy source. Solar power was up more than 20 per cent on the same period last year, while wind generation grew 12.2 per cent, together making up more than 12 per cent of American electricity, the data shows.
Moreover, including hydropower, biomass and geothermal energy, renewables produced 27.1 per cent more electricity than coal power in the US from January to April 2020, despite the Trump Administration's continued vocal support for coal power.
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