U.K. Fossil Power Falls to Lowest Level Since 1957

The Ardrossan Wind Farm in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

The Ardrossan Wind Farm in North Ayrshire, Scotland. Vincent van Zeijst via Wikipedia

The U.K. is drawing less power from natural gas and coal than it has at any point in the last 66 years.

Last year, fossil fuels supplied 33 percent of British electricity, while renewables provided 43 percent, according to an analysis from CarbonBrief. Nuclear power and imported electricity accounted for most of the remaining supply.

Since fossil power peaked in Britain in 2008, the amount of electricity provided by natural gas has fallen nearly in half, while coal power has dropped by 97 percent. There now remains just one coal-fired power plant in Britain.

The decline of fossil power has been brought about by the rapid growth of wind and solar, in addition to waning electricity demand. Since 2008, renewable electricity has grown sixfold, while power demand has shrunk by 21 percent owing largely to a decline in manufacturing and consumers adopting more efficient appliances.


Last year low-carbon power, including both renewables and nuclear power, supplied 56 percent of British electricity. The government is aiming to reach 95 percent low-carbon power by the end of this decade.

Contrary to this goal, Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has recently set about weakening British climate policy, including lowering home insulation standards and undermining the development of renewable energy. In a recent auction of offshore wind rights in the North Sea, his government offered terms that would render any potential project unprofitable. The auction saw zero bidders.


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