How Much Of The UK’s Electricity Is Generated Via Renewable Resources?

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The United Kingdom, as you might expect, uses a large amount of electricity each quarter. We use electricity to run our offices and workplaces, our homes and public spaces, meaning we’re constantly using electricity generated by numerous different resources.

So how much energy is generated via renewables? How much is generated via finite resources and fossil fuels?

In the first quarter of 2012, renewables accounted for 11.1% of all electricity generated in the United Kingdom. Whilst that initially doesn’t sound like much, it’s actually a marked improvement on the previous year – in the first quarter of 2011, renewables accounted for 7.7% of the UK’s electricity generation. That’s an improvement of 3.4% over the course of 12 months.

Renewable energy includes things like solar power, hydroelectricity and wind power, all viable electricity production methods. If we are to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels in future years then we’ll need to continue this improvement wherever possible, ensuring we’re not constantly utilising finite resources to generate the countries energy.

The vast majority of electricity in the UK is generated via coal, a reliance that has actually increased since Q1 2011. In the first quarter of this year, coal was utilised to generate 42.3% of electricity in the UK, compared to 34.1% in the same period in 2011.

In contract, the reliance on gas to generate our electricity has dropped since last year – dropping from 37.2% in the first quarter of 2011 to 26.8% in the same period of 2012.

The rest of the electricity used in the UK in 2012 was generated via oil (1.2%, up from 0.8% in the first quarter of 2011) and nuclear (1.73%, down from 18.9% in the first quarter of 2011). Other resources accounted for 1.3% in Q1 2012 and 1.2% in the same period of the previous year.

It is a very positive sign that the percentage of electricity generated via green and renewable energy sources has increased from last year, demonstrating a genuine commitment from the United Kingdom to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and other finite resources. It’s also encouraging to see a drop in the utilisation of nuclear power, although this is probably explained by the closing of Oldbury Power Station in early 2012, combined with regular maintenance outages in the first couple of months of this year.

It’s also worth noting that we seem to be generating slightly less electricity in 2012 compared to last year, as the total electricity generated in the first quarter of 2012 was 3.4% lower than a year earlier – Whether this is down to a drop in demand or problems with electricity generation remains to be seen.


Post via John Bell, who works as a resource advisor for www.businesselectricityprices.org.uk. Photo by Martin Abegglen