Renewable energy capacity overtakes fossil fuels in the UK

The UK’s renewable energy capacity has surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time, according to new figures compiled by Imperial College London.

The combined capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9GW between July and September, creeping above the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants.

This quarterly data is the latest installment of an inverse relationship between the capacity of renewable energy and fossil fuels in the UK. In the past five years, renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuel capacity has fallen by a third.

Dr Iain Staffell of 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.”

However, the amount of power generation from fossil fuels was still greater over the quarter at around 40% of electricity generation, compared with 28% for renewable sources.

Generation defined as low carbon – produced either by renewables or nuclear power stations – provided 57% of the UK’s electricity during the quarter.

Wind is the largest contributor to the UK’s renewable energy capacity at over 20GW. Meanwhile, coal capacity has fallen by a quarter in the last year alone, with only six coal-fired plants left in the UK.