Renewables account for more than 50% power capacity in Britain

By Erin Voegele | November 08, 2018

The latest Drax Electric Insights report shows Britain’s power system hit a new milestone during the third quarter of 2018, with installed capacity from renewables overtaking capacity from fossil fuels for the first time.

The report indicates that one-third of the Britain’s coal, gas and oil capacity has been retired over the past five years. Capacity from wind, solar, biomass, hydro and other renewables, however, has tripled over the same time period, and has now reached a combined 42 gigawatts (GW). In comparison, country currently has only 41.2 GW of fossil capacity in place.

According to the report, biomass is now the third largest renewable generator in Britain, and accounted for 20 percent of new renewable capacity added in 2017-’18. During that time, two coal-to-biomass conversion plants came online, including Lynemouth in Northcumberland and Drax’s unit 4 in Yorkshire. Together, those two projects added more than 1 GW of renewable capacity. In addition, Britain has hundreds of smaller plants that produce electricity by burning various forms of waste.

Over the past 12 months, the report states that biomass capacity has increased nearly 50 percent, reaching 3.2 GW. Nuclear and biomass stations were the most intensively used during the third quarter, while coal-fired facilities were among the least utilized.

Biomass accounted for approximately 6.5 percent of Britain’s electricity supply mix during the third quarter. Total electricity supplied from all sources during the three month period was 66.4 terawatt hours (TWh).