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UK fossil fuel use hits record low

By Charlotte Ricca

Wind, solar, nuclear and under-sea cables delivered more power than fossil fuels in 2019

The UK's zero-carbon energy outstripped fossil fuel use in 2019 for the first time, according to the National Grid.

Last year was the cleanest on record for Britain's electricity grid. This was due to a huge decline in coal-fired power and a rise in renewable and low-carbon energy.

Latest data from the National Grid reveals a combination of wind farms, solar and nuclear energy, alongside power imported from Europe via under-sea cables, delivered 48.5 per cent of UK electricity in 2019.

This compares with 43 per cent generated by fossil fuels. The remaining 8.5 per cent of Britain's power was generated by biomass energy plants.

A decade ago, coal plants provided almost a third of the UK’s electricity, but this has dropped to just 1.9 per cent. In 1990 more than 75 per cent of UK electricity came from fossil fuels.

"As we enter a new decade, this truly is a historic moment and an opportunity to reflect on how much has been achieved," said John Pettigrew, National Grid CEO.

"At National Grid, we know we have a critical role in the acceleration towards a cleaner future and are committed to playing our part in delivering a safe and secure energy system that works for all."

The UK has a target to close all of its coal plants by 2025. The National Grid plans to invest £1bn in new equipment and technology to ensure the transition to a net-zero carbon electricity system.

Denmark sourced a record 47 per cent of its energy from wind power in 2019, Reuters reported. Its grid operator Energinet said the figure beat the 2017 mark of 43 per cent.

FURTHER READING: Funding feud amid EU’s plans to phase out fossil fuel investment

FURTHER READING: Climate change will threaten banks’ profitability

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