Britain's renewable power hits new peak, fossil fuel also rises

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Drax Power Station, illuminated in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, in North Yorkshire

LONDON (Reuters) - Renewable power sources generated 40% of Britain’s electricity in 2022, up from 35% in 2021, while the share of fossil fuel in the energy mix also rose, a report by academics from Imperial College London for Drax Electric Insights showed on Thursday.

Overall generation from renewables has more than quadrupled over the last decade. Wind, solar, biomass and hydro are the main sources of renewable power.

Fossil fuel still has a larger share, providing 42% of Britain's power in 2022, which was its biggest contribution to the country's fuel mix since 2016.

Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, and lead author of the report, said 2022 had been "a year like no other for the energy industry".

Although renewables provide "more cheap, green energy than ever before," he said, the public is feeling the pain of gas prices, which surged in response to supply disruption linked to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Britain, in common with other European countries, extended the life of coal-fired power units to try to ensure adequate supplies during winter peak demand as Britain's power imports dropped to zero in 2022, compared with 8% of supplies in 2021, Drax said.

The country has significantly reduced its reliance on coal, the most carbon-intensive form of power generation. The National Grid said 0.7% of generation came from coal in November compared with 11.3% at the same time in 2017.

On one day in May, renewables provided almost 73% of power to the grid, the report said.

The rise of renewable power cut Britain's carbon emissions by 2.7 million tonnes compared to the previous year, according to Thursday's report.

Another report by Drax, once heavily reliant on coal and now Britain's biggest renewable power generator by output, said that between 2010-19, Britain cut its carbon emissions from its power grid further and faster than any other major economy.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; editing by Barbara Lewis)