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Coal generation becoming a ‘distant memory’ as share of energy mix falls to 0.7%

The amount of energy generated from coal sources in the UK has fallen to a record-low output of 0.7% – a 63% decline on the same period the year prior – with low-carbon making up more than half of the UK’s energy mix.

The UK as clocked up almost three weeks of coal-free power in 2019

The UK as clocked up almost three weeks of coal-free power in 2019

The latest figures from the Department for Energy Business and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show that less than 1% of the UK’s energy mix was accounted for by coal sources between the months of April and June 2019. The figure is 63% lower than in the same period in 2018.

The statistics show that renewables use has risen 12% year-on-year, driven by offshore wind generation that has increased by 25% over the same period.

“This new record low is a result of our world-leading low carbon energy industry, which provided more than half of our energy last year and continues to go from strength to strength, as we aim to end our contribution to climate change entirely by 2050,” a BEIS spokesperson said.

“Coal-generated energy will soon be a distant memory on our path to becoming a net-zero emissions economy.”

BEIS claims that the statistical trends are in line with plans to eliminate coal-powered generation in the UK by 2025.

The data also found that 99% of the current solar capacity in the UK became operational after 2010, and provided 12.9TWh of power in 2018, a 12% increase compared to 2017.

Previous Government statistics revealed that the renewables share of generation reached 33% in 2018, an increase of 3.9% compared to 2017. Overall, low-carbon sources (renewables and nuclear) accounted for 52.8% of total generation in 2018. 

These findings led the operating firm for National Grid to claim that Great Britain’s electricity system can operate as a zero-carbon grid by 2025, owing to a decreased reliance on coal generation and the emergence of new “smart” technologies.

However, figures published by BEIS revealed that the UK is on course to miss its fourth and fifth carbon budgets by 139 and 245 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) respectively. 

The first three months of 2019 saw the electricity grid clock up 650 hours of coal-free generation – more than was achieved during the entirety of 2017. In total, the UK as clocked up almost three weeks of coal-free power in 2019.

Matt Mace

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