The huge impact of wind and solar from a sunny, breezy day meant that a large majority of the UK’s energy came from low-carbon sources – far more than was contributed by coal and gas. Last weekend, for the first time, the UK met a huge landmark. Low carbon intensity of power production is key for reducing climate change, and for the first time, this dropped below 100g of CO2 per kWh.
Not all the energy generated was from renewables; nuclear also comes under the umbrella of ‘low-carbon’ sources. Nuclear’s ‘clean’ title is controversial. However, it is considered by many to be better than coal, which has pretty devastating consequences for the the environment. Last Sunday’s numbers are a good sign of things to come, with a new UK energy mix emerging, following the closure of many of our coal power plants.
Low-carbon energy milestones in the UK
This is just the latest in a run of good news stories for the UK’s green energy industry. 2017 has already seen more hours without coal than in the whole of 2016! Plus, in the last couple of months, we’ve seen two other notable days:
- Friday 21st April was the first time since the Industrial Revolution that the UK went without coal for a whole day. There was enough power generated by other sources to mean that coal plants never needed to be fired up.
- On Saturday 25th May, for part of the day, solar produced more power than nuclear for the first time.
What’s the big deal?
The intermittency of renewable energy sources has always been the main problem. Recent events mean we can hopefully start to rely on wind and solar power more, at least giving us the confidence to believe in what they can do on windy/sunny days.
As well as being good news for the environment, developments look hopeful for helping to manage the UK’s energy levels. Generating enough electricity to meet demand has been looking shaky in recent months/years, since the closure of many coal and nuclear plants (as part of meeting carbon reduction goals).
With the recent run of good weather, we may well hear that solar also outperformed previous milestones this weekend. Experts have said that if this weather lasts, there are more records expected to be broken! This is great news in that it shows how big a force renewables can be, hopefully encouraging our government to invest in them.