Renewable energy generation outstrips fossil fuels for first year ever

Statistics released today by the Government show that renewable electricity generation outperformed fossil fuels for the first year ever in 2020. Renewables provided 43% of the UK’s electricity while fossil fuels generated 38.5%.

The figures, published in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Energy Trends report, show that onshore and offshore wind provided more than half of the UK’s renewable power in 2020 by generating 24.2% of the UK’s electricity needs (13% from offshore wind and 11.2% from onshore wind). Low carbon sources (renewables and nuclear) generated 59%.

The report notes that renewable generation has increased year on year and the latest annual record was driven mainly by high levels of generation from wind which increased by 18% compared to 2019.

RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn said:

“Today’s record-breaking figures, set despite the pandemic, show that renewables are keeping this country reliably powered up during the most challenging period any of us have faced for many decades.

Another key set of figures published today shows that the UK’s offshore wind industry now supports over 26,000 jobs, mainly in coastal areas which need new opportunities. This will rise to over 69,000 over the next five years as our domestic supply chain grows rapidly. The offshore wind industry is attracting over £60 billion in private investment in this 5-year period, helping to kickstart the Prime Minister’s green economic recovery and getting us closer towards net zero emissions on time”.

A total of 312.8 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity was generated by all sources in 2020.

Renewables generated 134.3TWh, an increase of 11% compared to 2019.
Fossil fuel generation fell by 14% to 120.5 TWh. Renewable electricity generation outstripped fossil fuels in each quarter of 2020 apart from Q3 when it was slightly below. 

Wind generated 75.7TWh (40.7TWh from offshore wind and 35TWh from onshore).

BEIS also released statistics today covering the final 3 months of 2020, showing that wind generated 24.9% of UK electricity in Q4 (14.1% offshore and 10.8% onshore). Renewables overall provided 40.5% (34.4TWh) in this period.

The report notes that Covid reduced industrial demand for electricity in 2020. As a result, total generation from all sources fell by 3.7% from 324.8TWh in 2019 to 312.8TWh in 2020.

April 1st, 2021