by Sami Grover: The country’s onward march of low carbon energy shows no signs of stopping…
We’ve seen plenty of headlines about the UK driving down emissions to Victorian-era levels, thanks in large part to the continued onward march of wind and solar energy.
Still, the latest milestone on this front is one worth celebrating: the UK energy grid now has more renewable energy capacity than all fossil fuels combined. (Note: We’re talking about installed capacity, not actual generation.)
That’s the conclusion of a new report published by energy production giant Drax:
This quarter, Britain’s power system hit a major green milestone that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. The installed capacity of renewables has overtaken that of all fossil-fuelled technologies combined. A third of Britain’s coal, gas and oil capacity has retired over the last five years, while the capacity of wind, solar, biomass, hydro and other renewables has tripled. Now standing at a combined 42 GW, renewables now dominate Britain’s electricity generating infrastructure.
This progress is not without its downsides. According to Drax, the rising cost of carbon, gas, and the challenges of balancing renewables have meant that wholesale energy prices were at a ten year high. Now, anyone who really understands the economic implications of catastrophic climate change will know that arguing against renewables because of rising prices is a false economy of almost epic proportions. That said, we must also acknowledge that the burden of energy costs are not distributed equally across society—so tackling fuel poverty ought to be a priority if we are to keep people onside as we progress.
The work continues, but this is a milestone that’s worth celebrating.