UK renewable electricity generation set record in 2018

By Erin Voegele | July 30, 2019

Renewables accounted for a record 33 percent of U.K. electricity generation last year, up 3.8 percent from 2017, according to updated data released by the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy July 25.

According to the data, primary energy production in the U.K. increased 2.9 percent between 2017 and 2018. The increase was driven by growth in output from primary oil, wind, solar and biomass. Final energy consumption increased by 1.1 percent due to an increased demand for heating. On a temperature adjusted basis, final energy consumption rose by 0.2 percent.

Total renewables, as measured by the 2009 EU Renewables Directive, accounted for 11 percent of total energy consumption last year, up from 9.9 percent in 2017.

According to the BEIS, electricity from renewable sources reached a record 33 percent of total U.K. electricity generation, up 3.8 percent from 2017. The increase reflected a 10 percent rise in renewable generation capacity, which reached 44.3 gigawatts (GW).  

The BEIS estimates overall emissions fell by 9.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 2.4 percent, last year, reaching 364.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The drop is mainly attributed to changes in the fuel mix used for electricity generation.

The data shows primary energy consumption from bioenergy and waste has increased significantly over the past decade, from 2.7 percent in 2008 to 9.1 percent in 2018.

Total production of primary fuels, when expressed in terms of their energy content, increased by 2.9 percent from 2017 to 2018. Bioenergy and waste grew by 10 percent over that time period. Data published by the BEIS also shows the significant growth in bioenergy and waste since 1990. According to the data bioenergy and waste accounted for 0.7 million metric tons of oil equivalent in 1990. That volume grew to 13.4 million metric tons of oil equivalent by 2018.

Bioenergy accounted for 7 percent of the U.K.’s primary energy supply in 2018, up from 6.3 percent in 2017 and 6 percent in 2016. According to the BEIS, energy supply from biofuels increased by 11 percent from 2017 to 2018 due to more use of anaerobic digestion, wood pellets and energy-from-waste.

Landfill gas was used to generate 3.9 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2018, down from 4.3 TWh in 2017. Generation from other sources of bioenergy reached 30.8 TWh in 2018, up from 27.5 TWh in 2017. The BEIS said generation from plant biomass was up 15 percent from 2017 to 2018, partly due to new plants being converted from coal to biomass at Lynemouth and Drax.