Wind power is now generating more electricity than coal, according to the latest set of figures. In 2016, wind power created 11.6 per cent of our electricity, which means a quarter of our energy supplies now come from renewable energy. The figures have been welcomed from RenewableUK, who said:
“This is a historic and exciting change to our power infrastructure. As old-fashioned coal is phased out, modern technologies like wind are stepping up to make sure consumers have reliable energy without the damaging health impacts of coal pollution - as well as delivering for the UK economy.”
The declining use of coal
The statistics, which were compiled by Carbon Brief, show a steep decline in the use of coal. During 2016, coal generated just 9.2 per cent of our electricity; this is part of a downward trend which has continued over several years.
The government has opened a consultation to obtain views regarding ending unabated coal generated in Great Britain by 2025. Instead, the government wants to focus on cleaner forms of electrical generation to fuel Britain into the future. Phasing out periods are already underway and several UK coal plants were shut throughout 2016.
Wind power in Europe
The patterns for Europe have been similar to that of the UK. In Europe, again, wind power now leads coal in power generation, and wind power is now generating more than 10 per cent of Europe’s electrical needs.
Renewable energy targets missed
However, despite the record breaking figures and the attempts by government to find cleaner means of power generation, it is still set to miss its 2020 targets for renewable energy.
By 2020, the aim is to have 15 per cent of our energy produced from renewable forms but the Energy and Climate Change Committee say the government is not likely to achieve this.
Although the government is likely to exceed its goals for renewable electricity generation, it has fallen behind in its efforts on renewable energy used in heat and transport, and it is being urged to act now if it is going to meet its goals for lowering carbon emissions.
Renewable energy and transparency
In the meanwhile, the government has been warned that it is not being transparent enough with consumers regarding the costs of renewable energy sources such as wind power. As reported in the Guardian, a Commons Select Committee Report has said that consumers should be advised of the costs and savings of such schemes so they can decide for themselves if they offer genuine value for money.