Half of UK’s power from low carbon sources as renewables top 40GW

Vattenfall’s 230MW Pen y Cymoedd wind farm hit full power in 2017, helping onshore wind to overtake solar’s share of mix

Low carbon sources accounted for 50.4% of power generated last year, according to latest government data, overtaking fossil fuels.

However, the UK’s total energy consumption remains more than 80% reliant on fossil fuels, and transport consumption continues to rise.


Total UK generation output in 2017 was 335.9 terawatt hours. Of the generation mix gas dipped to 39.7 per cent, nuclear fell slightly to 20.9 per cent while renewable generation increased to 29.4 per cent.

Coal generation dropped by around a quarter year on year to 6.7 per cent of the mix. However, while use of coal-fired power stations declined through most of the year, large stations such as Fiddler’s Ferry and Eggborough fired up again as part of the capacity mechanism, so that the use of coal in the fourth quarter of the year was little different to the previous year.

Renewable generation capacity stood at 40.5GW by the year-end, with onshore wind overtaking solar to hold the largest share of that mix (12.9GW, compared to 12.8GW of solar). However, in quarter four, solar delivered less than 2 per cent of overall generation as light levels reduced, whereas onshore wind delivered 10 per cent as wind speeds picked up.

Demand and emissions

Across all sectors final energy consumption fell 1.1 per cent annually.

Domestic sector consumption fell by 4 per cent and the services sector fell by 1.8%.

However industrial consumption increased 0.8 per cent while transport consumption rose by 0.7 per cent.

UK net carbon emissions fell 3.2 per cent year on year.

The energy supply sector continues to decarbonise faster than any other, with emissions falling 8 per cent year on year, now 57 per cent down on 1990 levels.

Emissions from transport remained flat and have only declined 1 per cent since 1990.

See the full set of energy statistics here.

See the emissions data here.

Related stories:

Aurora: Bring renewables into reformed capacity market to save money

Electric vehicles boom no sweat, says National Grid

Scottish Power boss: You’re bonkers if you think we will build offshore wind ‘subsidy-free’

Eon CEO: Renewable power is done, now for heat and transport

Vattenfall backs hydrogen to decarbonise heavy industry

Click here to see if you qualify for a free subscription to the print edition or to renew.

Follow us at @EnergystMedia. For regular bulletins, sign up for the free newsletter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here