Rapid rise in renewable energy installations in 2018

A substantial increase in renewable energy installations coming online in 2018 meant that for the first time, the majority of electricity generated in the UK came from low-carbon sources like solar, wind, hydro and nuclear.

Figures from climate and energy news provider Carbon Brief show coal-fired power plants continued to close with output down 25% in 2018, gas generation fell by 4% and nuclear – considered a low-carbon energy source – was down 7% over the year.

In contrast, offshore windfarm capacity almost doubled in a single year, taking total wind power output to 58 TWh, solar power installations were up 11% at total capacity of 13 TWh and biomass generation rose 13% to 36 TWh, with hydro power contributing a further 5 TWh to low-carbon electricity capacity.

Fossil fuels now account for just 46% of UK electricity generation – the lowest percentage on record – while low-carbon energy sources accounted for 53% of output in 2018 and renewable energy installations in particular totalled about a third of all UK energy capacity.

At hebs Group we have seen this trend first-hand, in our work to supply and install cutting-edge renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps to support businesses in reducing emissions, lowering energy bills and protecting the environment.


How renewable energy installations are helping meet climate goals

The figures show that the increase in renewable energy capacity in the UK since 2005 is almost the same as the total amount of energy saved through measures like the move towards low-energy lightbulbs and more energy-efficient vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances.

Combining the 103 TWh of energy saved through more efficient appliances and the 95 TWh of additional renewable energy installations, annual CO2 emissions are much lower than they otherwise would be – without these factors, emissions would be around 20% higher for gas-powered stations and 50% higher using coal.

“Lowering electricity use is not an end in itself, given the useful services it provides,” Carbon Brief concludes. “But energy efficiency and renewable energy are both key elements of most pathways to meeting UK and global climate goals.”

In response to the publication of the figures, Lawrence Slade, chief executive of the energy industry trade organisation Energy UK, urged these trends to continue with greater installations of wind and solar power to support the UK’s decarbonisation efforts across business and residential premises alike.

He added: “We are calling for the government to roll out a National Energy Efficiency Programme across the UK for domestic and non-domestic premises.”

We will continue to work hard to add to the total capacity of renewable energy generation for business premises across the UK, as well as providing essential electrical maintenance services to keep existing renewable energy installations running efficiently and contributing as much as possible to low-carbon energy output in the UK.


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