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Renewables sets new generation record as low carbon power takes 50% share

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Government data has revealed that the UK’s ever-expanding renewables fleet set a new generation record last year, providing more evidence – if any were needed – that the country’s energy transition is well underway.

This morning the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released its monthly energy statistics, unveiling its provisional generation data for 2017.

Those stats revealed an 18.8% increase in total renewable energy generation for the year, reaching 98.9TWh. That increase was attributed to both increased capacity and higher wind speeds for the year.

Renewables’ share of total electricity generation also rose sharply, reaching 29.4% of the country’s total electricity output, up 4.9 percentage points.

Of that share, a significant majority was produced by the country’s onshore and offshore wind fleets. Offshore wind (8.5%) and onshore wind (10%) were aided by hydropower (2%) and solar PV (1%).

Wind generation has proven a particular boon for the country’s renewable energy production. Just last week news emerged of a new wind production record – topping 14GW – owing to beneficial weather conditions.

The combined share of low carbon and renewables was also more than half (50.4%) for the first time last year, providing further indication of the transition towards cleaner generation.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive at Energy UK, said the figures confirmed the “ever increasing contribution” low carbon and renewable generation assets are making toward emissions reductions.

“We need to keep up the pace however by ensuring that the lowest cost renewables are no longer excluded from the market - and through other sectors like transport and heating following the energy industry’s lead in reducing emissions,” Slade said.

Slade’s call to “keep up the pace” is perhaps best reinforced by independent grid monitoring site MyGridGB’s carbon intensity tracker, which shows average grid carbon intensity in 2017 to have stood at around 272g CO2/kWh, against a 2030 target of 100g.

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