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28 December 2017

Britain has broken 13 clean energy records in 2017, putting it on course to be the greenest year ever.

 

This year Britain has broken 13 different renewable energy records, putting it on track to be the greenest year ever for clean, electricity production. This is predicted to get even greener in 2018 ushering in a new era of low carbon electricity.

These records are across the clean electricity sector. Highlights of 2017 included the greenest summer ever, as well the first full day since the Industrial Revolution where there was no coal power, record breaking level of green power and the plummeting costs of off-shore wind. Meanwhile with the growth of electric vehicles more and more people are able to put clean energy into our cars when they are charged.

 

Gareth Redmond-King, WWF Head of Energy and Climate, said:

“2017 has been an amazing year for renewable electricity in Britain; we have never been cleaner or greener - and we are on course for an even better year in 2018. Climate change is wreaking havoc on our nature and wildlife, but we are at last facing up to the challenge, turning our backs on polluting fossil fuels and embracing a new clean future. But we need to show more ambition by bringing forward the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars to 2030. ”

 

Britain has halved carbon emissions in the electricity sector since 2012, making the power system the 4th cleanest in Europe and the 7th cleanest in the world – a jump of 13 places up the league board on the previous year[1]. With 2017 smashing all records it is predicted to be the greenest year ever. Meanwhile public support for renewable electricity production has hit record highs, with 82%[2] of the UK public supporting green energy.

Duncan Burt, Director of the System Operator at National Grid, who have verified the records and are working with WWF on forecasting the carbon intensity of electricity said:

“It’s been an exciting year managing the many ‘network firsts’ - from a day where we operated the system with zero coal power, to one where over half of Great Britain’s energy demand was met by renewable generation.

 

“2017 marked a new era of grid operation. We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system which poses an exciting challenge for us in ensuring the supply and demand is matched second by second. As this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important. We have an expert team of forecasters who monitor a range of data, to forecast just how much electricity will be needed over a set period.

 

“We planned for these changes to the energy landscape, and continue to do so as the energy system evolves. We have worked with the industry to ensure we have the right tools and services in place to continue operating the grid safely and reliably.

 

“I’m sure there will be more records broken in 2018 and we’re ready and excited to play our part”.

 

The full list of broken records in Britain for 2017 include:

 

Low carbon generation

  1. First 24 hour period without coal generation since the Industrial Revolution – 21st April
  2. Longest period without coal generation (40 hours 35 minutes) –28th-29th October
  3. Greenest summer ever, with almost 52% of our electricity generation from low carbon sources – 21st June to 22nd September[3]
  4. The lowest amount of carbon produced by electricity production at any one moment (73 gCO2/kWh)[4] – 2nd October[5]
  5. The largest amount of electricity produced from renewable sources at any one moment (19.2 GW) –21st March[6]
  6. First time ever wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined – 7th June

Solar

  1. Most electricity production from solar power at any one moment (8.9 GW), a quarter of Britain’s electricity supply – 26th May
  2. Highest percentage of solar produced relative to national demand (26.8%) – 2nd July

Wind

  1. Most wind power produced in a day (281.5GWh) – 7th December[1]
  2. Most offshore wind generation at any one moment (4.3 GW) – 1st October[7]
  3. Most electricity production from all wind generation at any one moment (12.4 GW) – 6th December

Hydro

  1. Most electricity production from hydropower at any one moment (1.4 GW) – 27th February

Cost

  1. Record low strike price at the second Contracts for Difference subsidy auction of £57.50/MWh, well below Government guarantee for Hinkley C – 11th September

However, more needs to be done to reduce our carbon emissions and tackle climate change. Whilst the Clean Growth Strategy in September outlined strong Government ambition, it has not been followed with a detailed plan. The Industrial Strategy and Budget failed to mention the importance of onshore wind and solar, and did not promise any new investment in UK renewables, despite being the cheapest form of power generation.

 

The UK Government admits that it is not yet on track to meet the 4th or 5th Carbon Budget and cannot yet demonstrate how new policy proposals listed in the Clean Growth Strategy get us to the required level of emissions savings in 2032.[8]

 

2018 is the year of opportunity for clean energy, and is set to be even greener, but it must be backed up with Government action. Greater support needs to be given to renewable energy, to decarbonise our heat and make our buildings use less energy. On top of this greater ambition is needed to support electric vehicles by ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. This will cut our carbon emissions, clean up our air and bolster the UK economy.

 

[1] https://www.pwc.co.uk/services/sustainability-climate-change/insights/low-carbon-economy-index.html

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/656549/Wave_23_Summary_Report.pdf

[3] https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/national-grid-confirms-summer-2017-greenest-ever-and-launches-worlds-first-green-energy

[4] The UK needs power generation to be consistently 50-100 to meet our Climate Change Act targets

[5] https://twitter.com/NGControlRoom/status/914771389864906752

[6] http://electricinsights.co.uk/#/dashboard?start=2017-03-21&&_k=majj9g

[1] 24 hour period from 22.00 on 07/12/2017 to 22.00 08/12/2017

[7] https://twitter.com/WindEurope/status/914790515345895429

[8] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/651916/BEIS_The_Clean_Growth_online_12.10.17.pdf