Renewables Capacity Surpasses Fossil Fuels in the UK for the First Time

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The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time. The result is thanks to a record third quarter for the UK tenant sector, with the capacity of wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower reaching 41.9 GW, exceeding the 41.2 GW capacity of coal, gas, and oil-fired power plants.

A milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago, has been achieved so early with the recent boost in renewable capacity additions. These have, over the last five years almost tripled while fossil fuels have fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic in the same time. Coal operators have been affected by the UK’s carbon tax on electricity generation, as well as competition from gas, with nearly one-fourth of the coal capacity dropped just last year. The UK now has only 6 operational coal-fired plants. Dr Iain Staffell, professor in-charge of the study at the Imperial College said,
“Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and this quarter saw a major milestone on the journey.” The data presented by the study also compares the recent boost in renewable additions to be greater than the ‘dash for gas’ in the 1990s which saw natural gas consumptions peak in 2001. Even with the unprecedented growth in the renewable sector, fossil fuels still generated more power over the quarter, at about 40% of electricity generation compared with 28% for renewable sources. However, 57% of all electricity generation was low carbon over the period, produced either by renewables or nuclear power stations.


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