Low carbon power provides half of UK electricity, figures show

Offshore wind contributed to renewables generating 29% of the UK’s power in 2017 (Danny Lawson/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Half of the UK’s electricity came from low carbon sources such as wind turbines and nuclear power in 2017, official figures show.

Renewables including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower provided a record 29.3% of Britain’s electricity in 2017, up from just under a quarter the previous year, as more wind turbines and solar farms were put up.

Half of the power from renewables came from offshore wind farms, which generated 6.2% of overall power, and onshore turbines, which provided 8.6%.

There was a shift away from coal and gas towards renewables, with coal’s share of electricity generation falling to just 6.7% and gas power dropping to 40.4% of the mix, the annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics (Dukes) said.

In total, low carbon energy sources accounted for a record 50.1% of UK electricity last year, up from 45.6% in 2016, the figures from the Business and Energy Department revealed.

The shift away from fossil fuels for generating power meant that overall carbon emissions fell by 3.2% between 2016 and 2017.

The amount of pollution for each unit of electricity produced has more than halved in five years, down from 483 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour of electricity in 2012 to 225g in 2017.

Industry body 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.”

She added: “It’s great to see that the UK’s cheapest power source, onshore wind, is making such a significant contribution to the nation’s power needs.

“So it’s baffling that the Government is still excluding new onshore wind projects from the market place.

“Opinion polls show that two thirds of people think ministers should change their current policy and allow onshore wind to go ahead where it has local support, and most Conservative voters agree with them.”