Britain's Renewables Capacity Surpasses Fossil Fuels

Britain's total capacity available from renewables has overtaken fossil fuels for the first time, according to the latest Drax Electric Insights report.

A third of fossil fuel generating capacity has retired over the last five years; whilst the capacity from wind, solar, biomass, hydro and other renewables has tripled, taking the total renewable capacity available on the system to 42GW.

This means that for the first time renewables have the biggest share of Britain’s electricity generating infrastructure, overtaking the 40.6GW of capacity available from fossil fuels.

Wind farms provide the biggest share of renewable capacity on the system, with more than 20GW available. Solar comes in second providing more than 13GW, and biomass is third with 3.2GW.

The growth in offshore wind power has made Britain the world’s leader, with 45% of global wind capacity stationed here – and so far this year, Galloper, Rampion, Race Bank and Walney 3 have all come online, making Walney the world’s largest offshore wind farm at 0.66GW, the report said.

The Electric Insights report, produced independently by researchers from Imperial College London for Drax, also looks at why power prices are at a ten-year high and identifies Brexit as being a major factor. An 18% increase in power costs was caused by the currency devaluation associated with the 2016 referendum result, when the GB Pound fell against the Euro and US Dollar.

However, balancing the power system also added six per cent to wholesale prices as the day-to-day costs of running the transmission system came in at GBP 3.8m per day during the third quarter of 2018.

“More renewables are crucial for reducing carbon emissions and helping us to meet our climate targets – but flexible, lower carbon generation, is also clearly vital for controlling the costs of maintaining a stable, low carbon power system,'' Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said.

“The IPCC’s report recognised that in order to meet our climate change targets, up to 85% of global power generation needs to come from renewables by 2050. This means the remainder will have to be provided by flexible sources, which can support the system and help to keep costs down – such as biomass, hydro, pumped storage as well as high efficiency gas.”