Solar, wind and nuclear power each provide more electricity than gas and coal combined for first time

Renewable energy resources set record figure of 18.7 gigawatts, enough for more than 13 million homes

Ian Johnston
Environment Correspondent
Thursday 08 June 2017 14:49
Comments
Wind turbines in Greece, which is attempting to cut its current reliance on brown coal
Wind turbines in Greece, which is attempting to cut its current reliance on brown coal

Wind, solar and nuclear power have each generated more electricity than coal and gas combined – for the first time ever in the UK.

The National Grid said the landmark was achieved at 1pm on Wednesday.

Wind supplied an estimated 9.5 gigawatts, nuclear provided 8.2 gigawatts and solar contributed 7.3 gigawatts, all ahead of gas on 7.2 gigawatts. There was no electricity from coal at that time.

Renewables alone – wind, solar, biomass and hydro – also set another record for generation, reaching about 18.7 gigawatts at the same time. This represented about 50.7 per cent of demand, and is enough to supply about 13.5 million homes with electricity.

In a message on Twitter, the National Grid said: “For the first time ever […] wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined.”

However, at 8am on Thursday, gas was providing 43 per cent of the UK’s electricity, with nuclear supplying more than 24 per cent and wind on just over 11 per cent.

The rest was made up of imports (more than nine per cent), biomass (nearly six per cent), solar (three per cent) and storage (one per cent).

According to Aurora Energy Research, the landmark figures came after the UK experienced negative prices in the “day ahead” electricity market for the first time.

It said large amounts of wind power and low demand saw generators paying energy companies to take electricity for a brief period in the early hours of the morning.

Negative prices may reduce bills, but they do not result in payouts to domestic customers, whose charges are based on longer term averages.

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