News Release from RenewableUK


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Renewables dominate electricity generation for first year ever - outstripping fossil fuels

The Government’s annual energy bible has confirmed that renewable energy sources generated more electricity than fossil fuels for the first year ever in 2020, with wind playing the leading role.

Image: PixabayImage: Pixabay

The Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) published today by the Department for Business, Industry and Industrial Strategy, shows that renewables provided a record 43.1% of the UK’s electricity last year, up from 36.9% in 2019. The document notes that this was mainly due to increased wind generation.

Wind alone provided a record 24.1% of the UK’s electricity last year (13% from offshore wind and 11.1% from onshore wind).

Wind generation increased by 18% compared to 2019, setting a new record in the annual quantity of power it produced, providing 75.7 terawatt hours (40.7TWh from offshore wind and 34.7TWh from onshore), up from 64TWh in 2019. The report highlights the fact that offshore wind generated 29% more electricity in 2020 than in the year before.

Low carbon sources (renewables and nuclear) generated 59.3%.

Fossil fuel generation fell to a record low in 2020, providing 37.7% of electricity. Gas produced 35.7% while coal fell to just 1.8%. The report highlights the fact that there were several substantial periods in 2020 when there was no coal-fired power generation in Britain including a new record for 67 days between April and June.

RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail said: “This is stellar news in the year that the UK is hosting the biggest international summit on climate change for years. It shows that this country is playing a leading role in the global energy transition, with renewables becoming the dominant source of new power generation - outstripping fossil fuels for the first year ever and setting new record highs across the board.

“It’s another significant step on the road to net zero emissions, but we need to move even faster and decarbonise the power sector by 2035. Today’s report by the Met Office warns that the UK is already undergoing disruptive climate change, so it’s vital that we take practical action at scale against the biggest threat that all of us face to our way of life”.   

A total of 312TWh of electricity was generated by all sources in 2020. Renewables generated 134.6TWh, an increase of 12.6% compared to 2019. Fossil fuel generation fell by 15.9% to 117.8TWh.

The report says the pandemic reduced industrial demand for electricity in 2020 by 9.3% compared to 2019, but domestic consumption increased by 3.9% due to more people working from home.

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