- National Grid says 9.7 GW of solar power capacity contributed 34% to the national electricity mix in April 2020
- On several days in May 2020, solar power provided a third of the country’s electricity supply
- Along with wind power generation, solar and other renewables helped the country enjoy 68 days of coal free power generation
The year 2020 did not bring in much good news for obvious reasons but there was some silver lining for Britain as the year officially turned out to be its greenest year on record when the country ended up enjoying 68 days of coal free power generation.
Britain’s National Grid said during Spring season, specifically between April 10, 2020 and June 16, 2020, the country enjoyed 1,630 hours of coal free electricity generation—its longest run since the industrial revolution’. However, coal power was recorded for over 5,147 hours in 2020 compared to 3,666 hours in 2019, with the fossil fuel generating only 1.6% of the electricity mix last year, compared to 24.6% in 2015.
In April 2020, 9.7 GW of solar power capacity contributed 34% to the electricity mix. It was solar power’s highest ever level of generation and highest share in the mix, according to the National Grid. On several days in May 2020, solar power provided a third of the country’s electricity supplies. Till April 2020, cumulative installed solar power capacity in the UK had reached 13.5 GW (see 13.5 GW: UK’s Cumulative Capacity Till April 2020).
Wind power generation grabbed the limelight among renewables last year with 17.2 GW recorded till December 18, 2020.
“The grid continues to transform at an astonishing rate as we move away from fossil fuel generation and harness the growth of renewable power sources,” said Interim Head of National Control at National Grid ESO Rob Rome. “It’s an exciting time, and the progress we’re seeing with these records underlines the significant strides we’re taking towards our ambition of being able to operate the system carbon free by 2025.”
The last time National Grid announced coal free days for Britain was in May 2019 when the country went without coal for over 10 days with solar strong in the mix at 14.7% (see Britain Goes Without Coal For Over 10 Days).
By 2024, Britain plans to shutter its coal power plants to become a net zero emitting nation by 2050. In December 2020, the government released a draft on the matter to seek consultation which shows it pegs the country’s solar PV potential between 80 GW to 120 GW under various scenarios, said the Solar Trade Association (STA).