Renewables Overtake Fossil Fuels In The United Kingdom For The First Time

For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the United Kingdom drew more of their electricity needs from renewables than they did from fossil fuels, a sign that the tide is turning against dirty energy sources as the fight against climate change continues around the globe.

Earlier this year, the United Kingdom went a full week without using coal power for the first time since 1882. To achieve this milestone, the nation relied on solar, wind and other energy sources.

Now, the country has just experienced a three month period in which fossil fuels were overtaken by renewables in electricity production.

According to Carbon Brief:

During the three months of July, August and September, renewables generated an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours (TWh), compared with just 29.1TWh from fossil fuels, the analysis shows.

This is the first-ever quarter where renewables outpaced fossil fuels since the UK’s first public electricity generating station opened in 1882. It is another symbolic milestone in the stunning transformation of the UK’s electricity system over the past decade.

Carbon Brief also broke down the statistics further and noted that it is now just a matter of time before renewables permanently overtake fossil fuels.

In the third quarter of 2019, some 39% of UK electricity generation was from coal, oil and gas, including 38% from gas and less than 1% from coal and oil combined.

Another 40% came from renewables, including 20% from wind, 12% from biomass and 6% from solar. Nuclear contributed most of the remainder, generating 19% of the total.

While it is unlikely that renewables will generate more electricity than fossil fuels during the full year of 2019, it is now a question of when – rather than if – this further milestone will be passed.

Currently, the United Kingdom is working to be zero carbon by 2050 and this new milestone is a step in the right direction.

“Already, we’ve cut emissions by 40% while growing the economy by two thirds since 1990,” Energy and Clean Growth Minister Kawsi Kwarteng told The Guardian. “Now, with more offshore wind projects on the way at record low prices, we plan to go even further and faster in the years to come.”

Frankly, 2050 may be too late to make the full transition as we are just years away from catastrophic climate change due to rising global temperatures. That means the United Kingdom needs to reach this goal much sooner, which the country is capable of doing.

Wind farms are certainly doing their part, and more of them are being built, according to Luke Clark of Renewable UK.

“The cost of new offshore wind projects, for example, has just fallen to an all-time low, making onshore and offshore wind our lowest-cost large scale power sources,” Clark said. “If government were to back a range of technologies – like onshore wind and marine renewables – in the same way as it is backing offshore wind, consumers and businesses would be able to fully reap the benefits of the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Governments must take action to save our planet, and that means abandoning the fossil fuel industry and supporting renewables. There is simply too much at stake to continue slow-footing the transition. It needs to speed up. The world is in a race against climate change. And unless we move faster, we are all going to lose.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.
 

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