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UK & Europe Power Industry News October 2019

Posted by: James Turner
Industry News

UK & Europe reach renewable milestone

The UK has ended its first ever quarter in which electricity generation from renewables outpaced fossil fuel-fired power generation, prompting a boom in UK power jobs. 

Declining technology costs and battery prices across the board have made unsubsidised wind and solar power the cheapest options for electricity generation. In the UK power market, as much as 40% of electricity generation in Q3 came from renewables (including wind, biomass, and solar) while fossil fuels accounted for 39%, an analysis of the UK’s Q3 electricity generation from Carbon Brief showed this week. Most of the remaining generation came from nuclear power, which generated 19% of the UK’s electricity in that quarter.

This was the first quarter in the UK history in which renewables generation exceeded fossil fuels since the first power plant opened in Britain in 1882.

The share of coal in the UK’s power generation dropped from just above 30% in 2009 to less than 3% in January-May 2019, National Grid said earlier this year, noting that in full 2019 “Britain is set to achieve a historic electricity generation milestone this year, with more electricity generated from zero carbon sources than fossil fuels.”  

As the UK aims to phase out coal by 2025, coal-fired electricity generation in the country has been at all-time lows in recent months. In May, the UK went coal-free for a full week for the first time since the 1880s, as its electricity generation used 0% coal-fired power. 

Meanwhile, in the UK’s latest Contracts for Difference (CfD), twelve new renewable energy projects won contracts to provide 6GW of capacity, enough to power over seven million UK homes at record low costs as renewables are expected to come online below market prices for the first time.

Rising offshore wind capacity has been the main driver of the UK’s growing renewable capacity and electricity generation in recent years. With this, there has been a notable shift towards the renewable sector for UK and Eruopean power and energy jobs.

There are even more advanced ‘renewable’ countries in Europe. Sweden, for example, generates more than 54% of its electricity from renewable sources on a sustainable basis. The country targets to have 100% renewable electricity generation by 2040. Denmark generates more than 43% of its electricity from wind power.

Meanwhile, Germany saw a record share of renewable generation in the first half of 2019, thanks to stormy weather that boosted wind power generation.

Globally, wind and solar are expected to account for a combined 50% share of electricity generation in 2050. Europe is set to decarbonize the furthest and the fastest. Full story.

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