Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that renewables generated more electricity in the last quarter than coal or nuclear plants.
According to DECC, of electricity generated in the second quarter of 2015, gas accounted for 30.2%, coal 20.5%, nuclear 21.5%, and renewables 25.3%. A total of 42% of this came from onshore and offshore wind, with wind generating 10.7% of the country’s needs.
Overall year-on-year figures show that renewable electricity generation rose by 51.4%, with increased capacity coupled with high wind speeds, and solar levels.
Solar PV generation rose by 115%, from 1.5TWh to 3.2TWh, due to increased capacity, while generation from bioenergy increased by 26.2%.
Wind generation rose by 65.2%, due to higher wind speeds and increased capacity from the continued expansion of several large-scale offshore wind farms.
Total demand for coal in the second quarter of 2015, at 8.5 million tonnes (a record low), was 22% lower than in the second quarter of 2014.
Consumption of coal by electricity generators was down by 27% to 6.1 million tonnes due to reasons including the temporary closure of some plants due to market conditions, along with an increase in the carbon price floor from April 2015, the partial closure of Ferrybridge C, and a second unit of Drax being converted to biomass.
In a statement, Maria McCaffery, RenewableUK’s chief executive said: “Renewables have now become Britain’s second largest source of electricity, generating more than a quarter of our needs.
“The new statistics show that Britain is relying increasingly on dependable renewable sources to keep the country powered up, with onshore and offshore wind playing the leading roles in our clean energy mix.
“As the transition to clean electricity continues apace, we’d welcome clearer signals from government that it’s backing the installation of vital new projects. So far, we’ve had a series of disappointing announcements from ministers since May, which unfortunately betray a lack of positive ambition at the heart of government.
“If ministers want to see good statistics like we’ve had…continuing into the years ahead, they have to knuckle down, listen to the high level of public support we enjoy, and start making positive announcements on wind, wave and tidal energy”.