UK greenhouse gas emissions fell below 500 million tonnes in 2015 for the first time as renewable energy generation hit a record 25 per cent of the country’s energy generation.
Seven greenhouse gases dropped by 3 per cent between 2014 and 2015 to 497 million tonnes, with the biggest polluter, carbon dioxide, falling 4 per cent to 405 million tonnes, according to provisional Department of Energy and Climate Change figures.
Power generation from renewables jumped from 19 per cent in 2014 to 25 per cent of the total in 2015, overtaking coal, which fell to 23 per cent. Gas accounted for 30 per cent of the electricity mix and nuclear 21 per cent, separate figures on energy showed.
Carbon pollution from energy supplies fell 13 per cent in 2015 due to less use of coal for power and more nuclear and renewables.
Last week saw the closure of Longannet power station, Scotland’s last remaining coal-fired power station, after 46 years of operation.
The shift to a cleaner energy mix and low electricity prices are increasingly making ageing coal power stations unprofitable.
However, experts have warned the government does not have a coherent strategy to shift the UK away from coal to a low-carbon energy system.
Recent closures of facilities across the UK amount to the loss of 6.4 gigawatts in potential energy generation for the National Grid. Although a little under 1GW of that will still be available from Eggborough Power Station, which was due to close but has secured a contract with National Grid to provide extra capacity during this winter from two of its four units.
Margins between peak electricity demand and the amount of power generation will be very tight in the coming winter, it is being warned.
Michael Grubb, professor of energy and climate change policy at University College London, said: "The system has the greatest risk of supply stress this winter.
"I don't think the lights will go out for any domestic consumers, but there are other things that may have to be done."
From next winter, additional measures will be implemented including payments for capacity to be on the system, more interconnectors with Europe, and more development of schemes that manage demand.
Meanwhile, the increase in the take up of renewables was praised by Juliet Davenport, chief executive of green energy company Good Energy
"Yet again renewables are really proving their worth and it's fantastic to see record amounts of electricity generated by renewable sources,” she said.
"Renewables have shown incredible growth in the last few years and are leading the way when it comes to making the UK more energy secure in the future."
The emissions figures showed greenhouse gas pollution from the business sector fell by 3.1 per cent, driven by a reduction in the use of blast furnace gas for iron and steel industrial combustion as a result of the closure of the SSI steelworks at Redcar.
But emissions from transport, the public sector and homes all rose, with slightly cooler temperatures in 2015 than the previous year leading to an increase in gas heating by households.
It was revealed yesterday that Scotland’s electricity transmission network would be getting a £500m upgrade in the form of a 1200 megawatt subsea cable to improve the connections between its wind, wave and tidal renewable energy schemes and the National Grid.
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