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A UK First: Renewable Power Overtakes Fossil Fuels

18 Oct 10:00 by Steve Walia

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The UK received more of its power from clean energy sources than fossil fuels for the first time on record this summer, according to the latest figures. In quarter three, the country's share of electricity jumped to 40% from renewable sources.

This is the first time ever that electricity produced from wind farms, renewable biomass plants and solar installations has exceeded the amount produced by fossil fuels since 1882 - the year that Britain's first power plant was opened.

The new achievement supports analysis by National Grid that anticipates 2019 to be the first year that the UK will have zero-carbon electricity since the Industrial Revolution, with renewable sources and nuclear energy together overtaking the electricity outputs of coal- and gas-fired plants.

The milestone was assisted by a series of new commercial-size wind farms which went online and helped to create the tipping point. Just a decade ago, 80% of the country's electricity was generated by fossil fuels. Today, coal-fired energy represents less than 1% of the total electricity mix.

In fact, coal plants in Britain are shutting down rapidly ahead of a total ban in 2025. Just four will remain next spring, including two units at Yorkshire's largest energy plant, Drax. These will be converted into gas burners.

Of the dwindling proportion of fossil fuels, gas-fired power represents 38% of the mix, and nuclear stands at around 20%. Within the renewables category, wind power reigns supreme at 20% of the total UK mix, and renewable biomass is 12%. Solar stands at 6%.

The largest offshore wind farm in the world, Hornsea One, began operating in February and hit a peak output capacity in October of 1,200 MW. Along with Scotland's Beatrice wind farm, the two schemes increase offshore capacity by nearly 100%.