There is still a long way to go to catch up with gas, the UK’s top source of electricity
During the fourth quarter of 2017, windfarms and solar panels in the UK produced -for the first time ever- more electricity than the country’s eight nuclear power stations. This could be the result of several factors, such as high wind speeds, new renewables installations and lower nuclear output, that set wind and solar as the second biggest source of power after gas. It is also important that the UK has climbed to the seventh most attractive country in the world for renewables, according to a new report, moving up three places despite a “large drop” in investment last year.
During 2017, low-carbon sources of power – wind, solar, biomass and nuclear – provided a record 50.4% of electricity, up from 45.7% in 2016. Wind and solar generated 18.33 TWh, and nuclear 16.69 TWh, while the country’s top source of electricity remained gas with 36.12 TWh, even though its share of generation slightly fell.
Government promotes nuclear
After the approval of a design for new reactor in Wales, Horizon Nuclear Power, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, is now in talks with the government in order to receive a financial support package by mid-2018. The company has already spent £2bn on development, and has announced that without public financing, it could stop funding. Based on the figures above though, Greenpeace claims that the government should capitalize on its lead in renewables and “stop wasting time and money propping up nuclear power”.
On the other hand, large-scale solar and onshore wind projects are not eligible for support, after the Conservative government cut subsidies in 2015. But the Energy Minister Claire Perry, recently told House Magazine that “we will have another auction that brings forward wind and solar, we just haven’t yet said when”.
UK’s greenhouse gas emissions
As coal use fell and the use of renewables climbed, there was a 3% drop in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The biggest drop in emissions (8%) was observed in the energy sector, while pollution from transport and businesses remained at the same levels. That is the reason why energy industry chiefs claim that the government should rethink its ban on onshore wind subsidies. “We need to keep up the pace ... by ensuring that the lowest cost renewables are no longer excluded from the market”, said Lawrence Slade, chief executive of the big six lobby group Energy UK.
Source: The Guardian