In rainy UK, solar generates more electricity than coal

In rainy UK, solar generates more electricity than coal

The UK has reached a new milestone in solar power generation. In the past six months, solar panels produced more electricity that coal, according to data published by the Carbon Brief, a website covering climate change and energy policies.

Between April and September, the solar output was 6,964 GWh, equivalent to 5.2% of UK electricity demand, while coal generated 6,342 GWh, or 4.7% of demand.

Shares of total UK monthly electricity generation met by solar and coal during 2016 (%).


Sources: Sheffield Solar and Gridwatch. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

This breakthrough was the result of two major transformations in the energy system. The first is the significant increase of solar capacity, which reached 12GW in 2015, nearly doubling the amount of the previous year. This was partly due to a rush to complete projects before the early closure of support schemes.

The second is the fall of coal power generation. Changes on the market prices and government plans to phase out unabated coal by 2025 benefited gas and led to the decision to close rather than replace old power plants. As a consequence, output in 2016 was 65% lower than in 2015. On April 9th, says Carbon Brief, coal generation fell to zero for the first time since 1882, “when a coal-fired power station started supplying electricity to the public for the first time.”

Since then, solar has kept breaking new records. “Saturday 9 April 2016 was the first-ever day where more electricity was generated in the UK by solar than by coal. May 2016 was the first-ever month. The three months from June through to September was the first-ever quarter. And now the six months to September is the first half year,” wrote Dr Simon Evans.

Source: Sun & wind energy. The magazine for renewable energies

Date: October 2016

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Tags assigned to this article:
renewablessolar powerUnited Kingdom

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