Q4 2017: The quarter’s headlines

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by Dr Iain Staffell – Imperial College London 

2017 finished by continuing the familiar trends for Britain’s electricity: renewables replacing fossil fuels and carbon emissions falling. 

Article 2 begins with a review of events in 2017 – which saw half of Britain’s electricity come from low-carbon sources, as coal and gas output fell by a tenth and wind farms posted a record year.

Wind generation grew 45% between 2016 and 2017. Article 3 explores how higher wind speeds and the completion of several onshore and offshore wind farms contributed to record-breaking wind output over the year, and especially in Quarter 4. Together, wind, solar, biomass and hydro produced 96 TWh of electricity in 2017, enough to power the whole of Britain sixty years ago. Article 4 looks at the long-term diversification of electricity supply, and how far low-carbon energy has come.

Together, these changes meant that carbon emissions from Britain’s electricity consumption fell by 12% last year. This saving amounts to 10 million tonnes of CO2 in a year, equivalent to taking one in seven of Britain’s cars off the road (see Article 5).

After seeing record electricity imports in Quarter 3, Article 6 explores why net trade between Britain and France fell to zero during Quarter 4. Article 7 rounds up the statistics for the quarter.

Generation mix in Britain over the last eight years. Generation from fossil fuels has almost halved since 2010, demand has fallen by a tenth, and output from renewables has increased six-fold.

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

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