The UK has just finished its first quarter ever in which electricity generation from renewables beats fossil fuel-fired power generation—an achievement for the country that began the Industrial Revolution with coal. While Britain’s performance seems insignificant when compared to other renewable champions, it is nevertheless a benchmark that shows the take over of renewable energy globally over the past ten years, and the share of renewable energy in power generation is set to grow consistently, everywhere.
Falling technology costs and battery rates across the board have made unsponsored wind and solar power the cheapest sources for electricity production in significant economies, including India and China. Solar and wind power is now less expensive than coal in most of the world. In the UK, as much as 40 percent of electricity in Quarter-3 came from renewables—including wind, biomass, and solar—while fossil fuels add up for 39 percent of production, an analysis of the UK’s Quarter-3 electricity production from Carbon Brief showed. Most of the remaining energy came from nuclear power, which produced 19 percent of the UK’s electricity in that quarter.
This was the first quarter in the UK history in which renewables generation surpassed fossil fuels since the first power plant inaugurated in Britain in 1882. Of the 39-percent part of fossil fuels, 38 percent was natural gas, and lower than 1 percent came from coal and oil together, Carbon Brief stated.
The role of coal in the UK’s power production fell from just above 30 percent in 2009 to lower than 3 percent in January-May 2019, National Grid said this year, noting that in 2019 “Britain is set to gain a historic electricity production milestone this year, with more electricity from zero-carbon sources than fossil fuels.”