Renewables' share of electricity generation surpasses gas for first time in UK

Key Points
  • Overall, fossil fuels' share of generation dropped to 40.1% in the third quarter of 2019.
  • By contrast, low carbon electricity's share grew to 57.3%, a record high.
A family of four silhouetted against the spring sunset as they walk along the waters edge at Crosby beach near Liverpool.
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The U.K. saw electricity generation from renewables hit 28.8 terawatt hours (TWh) in the third quarter of 2019, according to figures released Thursday, just bettering gas-generated electricity.

The Department of for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's Energy Trends publication shows that renewables' share of electricity generation hit 38.9% between July and September. This record figure was also, for the first time ever, very slightly higher than the share for gas (38.8%). Electricity powered by nuclear fell to 18.4% compared to 23% for the same period in 2018. Coal accounted for 1.0%.

Overall, fossil fuels' share of generation dropped to 40.1% in the third quarter of 2019, which authorities described as a "record low." By contrast, low carbon electricity's share grew to 57.3%, a record high that was boosted by generation from renewables.

Breaking the figures for renewables down, bioenergy generation in the third quarter of 2019 came to 8.9 TWh. Hydro was responsible for 1.4 TWh, a 58% increase compared to a year earlier that was due in no small part to what was described as "the wettest August since 2000."

Wind generation hit 14.1 TWh, with onshore and offshore wind production growing by 24% and 43% compared to a year earlier. Solar photovoltaic production was 4.4 TWh, which represents a 2.8% decline.

The end of the third quarter saw renewable electricity capacity reach 46.9 gigawatts, a 3.2 GW increase compared to a year before.

"We've reached a historic tipping point with renewables outperforming gas for the first quarter ever," Rebecca Williams, head of policy and regulation at RenewableUK, said in a statement.

"This is great news all of us who are committed to reaching net zero emissions as fast and as cheaply as possible," Williams added, stating that the trade association was "looking forward to working closely with the new Government to speed up the transition to clean power."