UK hits 100% renewable – for a few hours

For 50 hours over the last quarter, Britain had enough clean electricity to meet the entire country’s demand and export low-carbon power.

With 45GW of renewable capacity installed (wind, solar, biomass and hydro), plus 7GW of nuclear power, and demand that ranged from 18 to 48 GW over the last year, it was inevitable that at some point renewable energy would fill the whole of the country’s needs.

At 5.00 on 30 December 3 GW of surplus clean power was produced as clean sources produced over 26.4GW while demand was only 23.4GW.

This milestone is to be applauded, however, fossil fuelled generators are still required to run continuously to provide the flexibility and inertia that keeps the power system stable. The rise in renewables does mean that the minimum safe amount of fossil fuels needed is continuously falling and on 29 December this minimum fell to its lowest ever minimum of 1.6 GW. Up until a year ago, this had never fallen below 2.4 GW.

The figures were analysed by Dr Iain Staffell, Professor Richard Green, Professor Tim Green and Dr Malte Jansen of Imperial College London; Dr Malte Jansen of the University of Sussex and Professor Rob Gross of the UK Energy Research Centre. The results were published in the Drax Electric Insights.

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