UPDATED 1 Sept: The EI library in London is temporarily closed to the public, as a precautionary measure in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. From 1 September, the library will be staffed Tuesday-Thursday, meaning some services including loans of hard copy materials can resume. The Knowledge Service will still be answering email queries via email , or via live chats during working hours (09:15-17:00 GMT). Our e-library is always open for members here: eLibrary , for full-text access to over 200 e-books and millions of articles. Thank you for your patience.
UK Renewables march on as carbon emissions fall again
A further rise in the proportion of electricity generated from renewables is again the main headline from the UK energy scene in 2019, as summarised in this year’s Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2020 published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Electricity generated from renewable sources reached a record 37% of total UK electricity, up from 33% in 2018. The increase reflected a 6.5% rise in the amount of renewable generating capacity in place, to 47 GW. And, despite a reduced nuclear output due to maintenance and outages, low carbon electricity’s share of generation increased to a record 54% of the total, driven by the increase in renewables.
Three roughly equivalent components make up the renewables total – bioenergy, offshore and onshore wind, with smaller contributions from solar PV and hydropower.
Looking at the wider energy picture, renewables accounted for 12% of total energy consumption in 2019, up from 11% in 2018. UK primary energy production fell marginally in 2019, by 0.2% on a year earlier, due to reduced output from the gas and nuclear sectors. Overall, fossil fuel production decreased, with coal output falling to a record low level. Final energy consumption fell by 0.9%, as demand for heating decreased, particularly in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2018.
Imports of energy into the UK fell by 2.4% in 2019, and the total is 16% down on the 2013 record high. The main source of crude oil imports was Norway, although the US is now a growing supplier. Imports of natural gas were 28% down during 2019, owing to a threefold increase in imports of LNG, although pipeline gas from Norway remained the largest contributor.
Meanwhile, provisional estimates from BEIS suggest that overall emissions fell by 14mn tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2), or 4%, to 352 MtCO2 between 2018 and 2019, driven mainly by the changes in the fuel mix used for electricity generation. Thirty years ago, that figure was 600 MtCO2. The fall in emissions is largely due to the reduced use of coal for power generation in the last decade.