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Christmas 2021 UK's greenest on record

Wind helped to set a new record, generating 15.62GW just before midnight on 29 December. Image: Getty.

Wind helped to set a new record, generating 15.62GW just before midnight on 29 December. Image: Getty.

New data has shown that power from fossil fuels on Britain’s electricity grid fell to an all-time low last week, delivering the UK’s greenest Christmas.

The data – from Drax Electric Insights – shows that at 23:45 on Wednesday 29 December, fossil fuels generated 1.7GW of electricity, with this just 6% of the power on the grid at the time.

Renewables generated 24.19GW, with this being 65% of the country’s electricity needs. The majority of this was wind, making up 15.62GW (55.32%), followed by 2.34GW of biomass (8.27%) and 0.3GW of hydro (1.05%). Solar PV was not generating, due to the time of day.

This new record highlights the significant increase in renewables over the last decade, with fossil fuels generating 18.78GW (58.79% of the country’s power needs) the same time on 30 December 2011.

Indeed, the use of fossil fuels across the 2021 Christmas period as a whole was low. During the seven days from Christmas Eve, the carbon intensity of the power system fell to just 125g/kWh, almost 75% lower than 2012, when the carbon intensity over the same period was 464g/kWh.

This follows the UK recording the first coal-free Christmas Day in 2020, with 30.9% of electricity coming from gas, 27.1% from wind, 21.4% from nuclear, 9.1% from imports, 7% from biomass, 2.9% from hydro and 1.5% from solar.

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