Low-carbon sources like solar, wind and nuclear generated more than half of UK electricity in 2017

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Nuclear and renewable power accounted for a big chunk of the UK's generation (Source: Getty)

More than half of the electricity generated in the UK came from low-carbon sources, including nuclear power, for the first time ever in 2017, new analysis suggests.

Together, nuclear power and renewables generated more electricity last year than all fossil fuels combined in the UK, with wind power alone providing more than twice as much electricity as coal, according to research from Carbon Brief.

The figures add to the list of green milestones made in 2017, including the first day since the Industrial Revolution during which the UK did not use any coal power. Last year was called the "greenest year ever" by the WWF.

The share of low-carbon electricity supply - which includes nuclear, bioenergy, solar, wind and hydro - doubled to just over 50 per cent between 2009 to 2017.

Fossil fuels supplied 47.5 per cent of generation in 2017, down from more than three quarters in 2010, with the majority coming from gas.

Read more: Solar so good: 13 impressive green energy records broken in 2017


(Source: Carbon Brief)

The largest increase in generation from a single source came from wind, which grew 31 per cent to 49 terawatt hours (TWh) last year as capacity jumped by a fifth and wind speeds rose seven per cent in the first 11 months of the year.

In September, the price of new offshore wind power was shown to have halved in just a few years, making it cheaper than new nuclear power, with prices for new wind projects as low as £57.50 per megawatt hour of electricity.

Nuclear power was still the largest single source of low-carbon electricity in the UK and the second-largest source overall, generating 70 TWh in 2017.

Solar power generation rose 11 per cent in 2017 due to rising capacity, while biomass increased four per cent.

Coal generation plummeted last year, falling by 25 per cent to 23 TWh while gas, the largest source of electricity, dropped seven per cent to 134 TWh. Gas alone supplied about 40 per cent of the UK's electricity generation in 2017.

Read more: We've just had our first day without coal since the Industrial Revolution

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