Q3 2016: Clean electricity hits 50%

Download PDF

by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London 

This quarter saw a major milestone quietly creep up on the industry: for the first time more than half of Britain’s electricity came from low-carbon sources.

The share of nuclear, biomass, hydro, wind, solar and French imports peaked at 50.2%. This share has risen gradually from just 20% in 2010 and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down, although high-carbon generation will be greater in the winter months due to higher demand.

Nuclear provided the largest share, at 26%. Renewables provided a further 20%, spurred on by continued growth in capacity. Britain now has over 26 GW of wind and solar installed, a six-fold increase on six years ago; while biomass has increased from nothing to 2 GW.

Britain imported 7% of its electricity this quarter. Three-fifths of this came from France, where 94% is produced from nuclear and renewables, and so deserves to be classed as lowcarbon. The remainder came from the Netherlands and Ireland, which are still predominantly powered by coal and gas.

Britain’s electricity supply mix in the third quarter of the year:

And how this compares to the same quarter in previous years:

Authors: Dr Iain StaffellProfessor Richard GreenDr Rob Gross and Professor Tim Green

Live Grid Data