In the wettest and windiest February, since records began, a study has shown that this weather helped generate more electricity in wind farms than by gas-powered stations
A study conducted by Imperial College London says that renewable energy has overtaken fossil fuels for the first time in powering the UK.
The study conducted by Imperial College London said renewable energy in the first three months of 2020 produced slightly more than fossil fuels. It also highlighted there was a reduction in demand for electricity since the lockdown, which was down by 13%.
This comes after the UK experienced its highest output of solar electricity ever, whilst also going 11 days without the use of coal power, and using just renewable energy.
This decrease in demand is said to be due to the reduction in tram, rail and tube services. Plus, with businesses not using offices, machinery, lights, and heaters, electricity would be used less often. It claimed that it is similar to living “through a month of Sundays.” This describes the reduction in demand seen at weekends. However, it also shows that domestic usage has increased due to people working and staying at home.
The lead author of the Electric Insights reports, Iain Staffell said:
“Britain’s electricity system is under pressure like never before, with both the country’s weather getting more extreme and a global pandemic testing its resolve.”
The report explains that the UK experienced record levels of wind, and the stormy conditions helped to reduce the generation of electricity by fossil fuels by 25% in the first quarter of 2020. It also mentioned that this trend was likely to increase as offshore wind farms are planned to come online this year.
Record coal-free run
At the end of March, two coal-powered plants were retired. However, until this point, they were run for 117 days straight to use the existing fuel. This contributed to an increase in coal generation for the quarter. However, now Britain is in a coal-free run of more than 40 days.
Britain currently has three coal plants left, and the North Yorkshire station is set to close in March 2021. It is also said the other two could close before the government’s deadline of 2024.
Drax, the company that runs the plant, said it could see a loss of up to 230 jobs from the closure. It was reported in FT that the chief executive Will Gardiner, is in a battle to transform the plant that provides 5% of the country’s electricity.
Speaking back in February, an analyst at Credit Suisse, Mark Freshney, said: “It absolutely makes sense for this company to be closing its coal production.” He also added he was surprised they didn’t do it earlier.
Drax also wants to convert one of the coal plants into gas but was met with hostility from environmental groups. However, Mr Gardiner also mentioned that the company would be focusing on biomass energy over the next decade.
Martin Young, an analyst at Investec, said:
“The crucial part of the investment case is what cost level they can get biomass to by 2027.”
He also commented that this would be more important for the company than short terms plans for gas.
This news comes after an announcement by the Scottish government that has confirmed an updated climate change action plan that was due to be released in early may will now be postponed until the end of the year.