Renewables can deliver 85% of British power by 2030

21st September 2015

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  • Adaptation ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Generation


Carlo Perrucci

Britain can generate 85% of its power from renewables within the next 15 years, provided there are changes in energy production and use, according to a new report from Greenpeace.

The environment NGO commissioned energy system analysts Demand Energy Equality to find out whether the UK could run on renewables as an alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power, and how long it would take achieve the goal.

Using real weather data for 11 years, the analysts modelled electricity demand and supply from renewable energy on an hourly basis. They found the switch to renewables could be achieved by increasing wind power capacity from 13 GW to 77 GW and solar from the current 5GW to 28GW.

However, the report makes clear that the switch to renewables is feasible only if there is a 60% reduction in space heating demand, delivered through investment in insulation, smart meters and other technologies as well as behaviour change.

The plan is ambitious but completely doable, says Greenpeace chief scientist, Doug Parr: "For a long time the government and the fossil fuel industry have peddled the argument that renewables can't keep the lights on if the wind's not blowing. This hasn't been based on evidence, but out of date instincts seemingly from staring out the window to see how windy it is."

Energy in the UK is currently provided by about 30% coal-fired power stations, 30% gas and 19% nuclear, with the remainder from a combination of solar, wind, hydro and biomass and other smaller renewable energy systems.

Changing the energy balance in Britain would require significant investment in both the renewables sector and energy efficiency schemes, backed up by government policy commitments.

Meanwhile, the chancellor, George Osborne, who is in China this week, today announced a £2 billion loan guarantee to encourage overseas investment in the proposed nuclear power plant development at Hinkley Point in Somerset.


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