The latest UK government figures show renewables, such as wind and solar, generated close to a third of British power in the second quarter of 2018. Between April and June, renewables provided a record 31.7 per cent of electricity generation, a three percentage increase from the same period the previous year.
Much of the growth over the period has been credited to the UK's solar sector, which thanks to long periods of sunshine this summer, resulted in record levels of power generation, reaching 4.6 terawatt hours during the second quarter, 0.9 per cent higher than the second quarter of 2017, which held the previous record.
James Court, Policy Director at the UK’s Renewable Energy Association, hailed the renewables record as “a significant achievement for the industry. Renewables have never been more affordable and accessible as they are now and this is reflected in the data released.”
Meanwhile, coal power hit a record low of just 1.6 per cent contribution to the UK's electricity over the period, whilst gas power remained the largest single contributor at 42 per cent.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: "With less dirty coal being used than ever before, and plans underway to phase out coal power completely by 2025, our modern Industrial Strategy is supporting thousands of good jobs in new clean growth industries."
However, a recent report for Drax Electric Insights by Dr Iain Staffell at Imperial College London suggested coal generation's share of the power may have increased during the third quarter of 2018, due to gas prices being at a 10-year-high. The study also warned if coal-fired electricity stays cheaper than gas, this could mean the first year on year rise in carbon emissions from Britain’s power sector in six years.
James Court, added the UK government “must introduce alternative support and unlock a route to market if the UK is to benefit from cheaper, greener and smarter energy”.
Although Scotland are also doing extremely well when it comes to switching to clean energy and reducing carbon emissions. Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change stated: “Scotland continues to lead the UK in reducing its emissions and has ambitious targets which aim to go further. Decarbonisation of Scotland’s electricity sector, and reductions in emissions from waste, have seen Scotland outperform the UK overall as emissions continue to fall year-on-year to nearly half of 1990 levels.”
It will be an interesting year ahead with regards to the renewables sector, with falling generation costs for solar and wind power – wind turbine prices per megawatt are down by a third since 2010 – meaning there could be some very attractive investment opportunities in the near future.