Scaling up renewable energy has catapulted Britain through a decade of electrical system change
In 2010, Britain generated 75 per cent of its electricity from coal and natural gas. But by the end of the decade these fossil fuels accounted for just 40 per cent, with coal generation collapsing from the decade’s peak of 41 per cent in 2012 to under two per cent in 2019.
The near disappearance of coal power – the second most prevalent source in 2010 – underpinned a remarkable transformation of Britain’s electricity generation over the last decade, meaning the country now has the cleanest electrical supply in its history. As it did at the start of the decade, in 2019 natural gas provided the largest share of Britain’s electricity at 38 per cent, compared with 47 per cent in 2010. Second place now belongs to wind power, which supplied almost 21 per cent of electrical demand in 2019, up from three per cent in 2010.
Twenty-nineteen saw the annual total for coal generation drop below solar and into seventh place for the first time. Britain’s renewables also generated more electricity than coal and natural gas combined over a month for the first ever time in August.