Renewables now account for 11.3 per cent of power generated, but only 4.1 per cent of total energy when transport and heating are included

Renewable generation rose by a fifth in 2012

Electricity generated by renewables rose by a fifth last year, but more use of coal power helped push up carbon emissions.

High gas prices drove a switch from gas to coal for electricity generation in 2012 which, combined with more use of gas to heat homes in the face of cool weather, increased carbon emissions by 4 per cent from 2011, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) statistics suggest.

Almost two-fifths (39 per cent) of electricity was generated from coal, up nine percentage points from 2011, while gas's share of electricity generation fell 12 percentage points to 28 per cent, the stats revealed.

Electricity generated from renewables rose by almost a fifth (19 per cent), making up 11.3 per cent of the total power generated in the UK in 2012 as more onshore and offshore wind turbines and solar panels were installed.

But renewables only made up 4.1 per cent of the total energy used UK-wide last year, including transport and heating. The UK has signed up to sourcing 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020 as part of EU targets.

The statistics also show that energy imports were at record levels in 2012, as domestic production of gas, oil and coal all fell.

Gas production fell 14 per cent, partly as a result of the Elgin platform gas leak in the North Sea, while oil production also fell 14 per cent and coal was down 8.5 per cent on the previous year.

Much of the UK's imported oil and gas comes from Norway, with 46 per cent of oil imports and 55 per cent of gas coming from the Scandinavian country.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG), which can be shipped around the world by tanker, accounted for 28 per cent of gas imports with almost all of it coming from Qatar.

Two-fifths of the UK's coal imports came from Russia, while around a quarter came from Colombia (26 per cent) and the USA (24 per cent), the Decc statistics show.

The increase in carbon emissions of 4 per cent is from energy use, and is the main reason for an overall increase of 4.5 per cent in carbon emissions across the economy in 2012, provisional figures from the government have suggested.

Overall greenhouse gas emissions, which include other key gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, rose an estimated 3.5 per cent last year.

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