Renewables overtake fossil fuels in critical moment for UK energy transition

New research has shown that sources of renewable energy provided more electricity to the UK’s national grid than fossil fuels during the last quarter, in a symbolic tipping point for the clean energy transition in the UK.

The combined energy produced by wind farms, solar panels and biomass plants rose to 40% of the country’s energy mix in the third quarter of 2019, surpassing fossil fuels for the first time since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Several new offshore windfarms built this year helped edge renewables past fossil fuels – comprised of gas and coal-fired power – at 39% of the UK’s electricity. The rise of renewables over the last decade has coincided with the decline of fossil fuels, particularly coal.

The latest figures compiled by Carbon Brief reveal that coal-fired power provided less than 1% of all electricity generated in the quarter, as UK coal plants prepare to shut down ahead of a ban in 2025.

Gas-fired power makes up the remaining 38% of electricity provided by fossil fuels, while nuclear energy generated 19% in Q3. Meanwhile, wind power accounted for the largest portion of renewable energy at 20% of the UK’s electricity supply.

RenewableUK’s director of strategic communications Luke Clark said: “The expansion of clean power is set to accelerate in the years ahead, as our offshore wind capacity will more than treble by 2030, generating more than a third of the UK’s electricity.”