Wind, solar, hydro and anaerobic digestion together made 43.1% of Britain’s electricity last year, outstripping legacy burning of hydrocarbons for the first time ever. 

As Covid depressed UK power 4.6% to  a record low of 330TWh for the year, renewable output leapt 18% higher, achieving 75.4TWh.

Offshore wind spun 27% more power than in 2019, Beis’s DUKES (Digest of UK Energy Statistics) notes.  More turbines commissioned, and increasingly violent weather were the causes.   Storm Francis pushed generation overnight on 26 August to 14.2GW, within a whisker of 60% of all output. This May, a new record saw wind output peak at 17.7GW.

Capacities for clean generation pressed relentlessly upwards in 2020.  DUKES reports that total commissioned plant for all renewables ended the year at 22.4GW – up 400MW – , assessed on a derated basis, reflecting lower load factors imposed to prolong operational life.

Removing the derating deflator, renewables added a headline 1GW in 2020, pushing the total of all green capacity commissioned to a notional 47.8GW.

As carbon-light capacity rose, Britain’s legacy thermal plant withdrew.  Dungeness B’s reactors were retired, as were Fiddlers Ferry’s 2MW of coal furnaces near Warrington.

DUKES’ detailed disclosure for 2020 starts here.


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