Total renewable power produced in 2017 could have supported UK for the whole of 1958

Output from wind, biomass, solar and hydro power last year was more than enough to supply the energy needed for 52 million people in 1958

Emily Beament
Wednesday 21 February 2018 09:16 GMT
A quarter of the UK's energy output came from renewables last year
A quarter of the UK's energy output came from renewables last year

The amount of renewable power produced in 2017 could have powered Britain for the whole of 1958, a report shows.

Britain's output from wind, biomass, solar and hydro grew by more than a quarter to 96 terrawatt hours of power, the latest Electric Insights report, from researchers at Imperial College London in collaboration with Drax shows.

That is more than enough to supply the 91 terrawatt hours used by the 52-million strong population of Britain 60 years ago in 1958, the year that saw the arrival of Blue Peter, the Hula Hoop and Paddington Bear, the report said.

In that year, when the electrical appliances that now make up a quarter of home power demand were still an expensive luxury, 92 per cent of electricity came from coal.

But by 2017, coal's share of the power mix had fallen to 7 per cent, while wind climbed to new highs to provide 15 per cent of the country's electricity, up from 10 per cent in 2016.

Overall last year 50 per cent of power generation came from low carbon sources such as nuclear, with 25 per cent of output coming from renewables.

Carbon emissions from electricity consumption fell 12 per cent last year, a saving equivalent to taking one in seven cars off the road, the report said.

Dr Iain Staffell, from Imperial College London said: "Generation from coal continues to fall and is now the preserve of colder months as opposed to being the mainstay of generation as it was in 1958.

"Sixty years ago, the power system emitted 93 million tonnes of CO2; in 2017 renewables managed to produce the same amount of electricity by emitting just three million tonnes.

"The share of fossil fuels on the system has fallen from 80 per cent to 50 per cent since 2010 and the effect that shift in the balance of power is having in terms of lowering our carbon emissions is striking."

Andy Koss, Drax Power chief executive said: "This report shows the great progress we have made in terms of decarbonising the energy sector.”


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