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Why We're Using More Renewable Energy Than Ever in Lockdown

22 May 15:00 by Steve Walia

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Between January to March of this year, Britain took 40% of its power use from renewables, which overtook polluting fossil fuels to create a new record.

 

The biggest source of clean energy came from wind farms, and February's winter storms massively pushed forward production from this technology. Currently, the UK is also in a record run: free from coal for forty days! With only three remaining coal-fired plants remaining in Britain, it's clear that fossil fuels are now being phased out.

 

But it's also interesting to note that people are using less energy overall during lockdown. Imperial College London carried out research that showed the impact of turning off lights, computers, heaters and machinery in offices and schools. These items are often left on overnight and at weekends unnecessarily, creating waste, cost and emissions.

 

Even with most of us still spending far more time than usual at home, the net effect is that the nation's electricity demand has plummeted to its lowest levels in nearly forty years. The same researchers concluded that even if a relatively small proportion of the country's workforce continued to work from home on a permanent basis after lockdown ended, the resulting benefits for electricity demand could persist well into the future.

 

Of course, renewable energy developments have experienced a halt as works ceased during the initial quarantine period, but the government has now allowed construction to continue and is keen to see renewable plants continue their trajectory of growth and innovation.

 

If net consumption decreases overall - through less waste from machinery, plant, lights and equipment left on overnight in industrial and working premises - the quarantine period could actually have created a surprising benefit for the environment and might take us closer to dreams for a net zero-carbon future.