he figures published in late July in the Digest of UK Energy Statistics confirm that 29.3% of the UK’s electricity was generated from renewables in 2017 – up from 24.5% in 2016. Half of this came from wind, which provided 14.8% of the UK’s power (8.6% from onshore wind and 6.2% from offshore) – up from 11% in 2016.
The publication also confirms that the carbon intensity of the UK’s power supply has fallen to record low levels. On average, a kilowatt hour of electricity generated last year produced 225 grams of C02, down from 483g in 2012. This reduction has been driven by a huge reduction in the use of coal and the rapid growth of zero carbon renewables.
The contribution of onshore wind grew by 39% in 2017, while offshore wind grew by 27%. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which published the figures, said this was due to increases in capacity, greater load factors and higher wind speeds.
In 2017, Scottish renewable generation made up approximately 25% of total UK renewable generation and approximately 69% of Scotland’s electricity consumption came from renewables in 2017 – up 15% on the previous year.
RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Today’s record figures demonstrate how fast renewable energy is transforming the way we generate power to create an energy system fit for the future. This is a radical shift, and we will see ever more low-cost renewables meeting flexible demand from homes, electric vehicles and new manufacturing processes and industries.”
Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2017 key points
• In 2017, gas accounted for 40% of UK electricity generation, down from 42% in 2016. Nuclear accounted for 21%, down marginally from 2016. Hydro, wind and solar accounted for a record 20% of generation, up by 27% on 2016, with thermal renewables accounting for a further 9.4%. Coal’s share was down 27% on 2016 at 6.7% of total generation in 2017.
• In 2017, UK energy production was up 0.4% on a year earlier. The rise was driven by growth from wind, solar and hydro and bioenergy and waste. Overall fossil fuel production contracted.
• Imports and exports in 2017 were both up; overall net imports decreased though they still accounted for 36% of energy used in the UK.
• Primary energy consumption was down 1.2%; and on a temperature adjusted basis primary energy consumption was down 0.3% continuing the downward trend of the last ten years. UK temperatures were above normal with a decrease in heating degree days compared to 2016.
• Final energy consumption fell by 0.7% as demand for heating decreased with temperature adjusted final energy consumption up by 0.9% on 2016 levels, mainly due to increased energy use in transport.
• Fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy supply (including transport), but now account for 80.1%, a record low level. Supply from renewables increased, with their contribution accounting for 10.2% of final consumption.
• Provisional UK Government estimates suggest that overall emissions fell by 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) (3.2%) to 366.9 MtCO2 between 2016 and 2017, driven by the changes in electricity generation.