UK tops global decarbonisation ranking

30th November 2020


Web windturbines istock 892160114

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Energy ,
  • Renewable ,
  • UK government

Author

Stephen Mortimer

The UK has decarbonised its electricity grid faster than other any other major economy over the last decade, according to a new global ranking from Drax Electric Insights.

The findings show that renewable power has grown six-fold in the UK over the last 10 years, which has helped slash the electricity system's carbon intensity by 58%.

This is double the reduction seen in any of the other countries studied, with the proportion of power generated from coal falling from 30% to just 2%, and the supply from renewables rising from 8% to 42%.

The findings also show that British households have each reduced their carbon emissions by three-quarters of a tonne per year, which is roughly equivalent to the CO2 generated by a family of four taking a return flight from the UK to Spain.

“As the world marks five years since the Paris Agreement the UK offers an example of how fast energy transitions can be made,“ said Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, which carried out the analysis for Drax

“Over the last decade the country has transformed itself from relying on coal to keep the lights on, to having its first coal-free month since the industrial revolution.

“While this progress in the power sector has been rapid, we now need to decarbonise wider society by using electricity to heat our homes and power our cars to achieve net zero by 2050.“

The UK's power system is set to grow even greener after the prime minister set a new target of installing 40GW of offshore wind by 2030.

However, Drax warned that upwards of 37TWh of excess electricity will be generated annually amid diverging weather and demand by 2030, with wind and solar power unable to provide all the services needed to stabilise the system and maintain secure supplies.

It said that one solution is to expand storage capacity by increasing the role pumped hydro storage plays in storing excess power when supply outstrips demand, and then to rapidly plug gaps when the wind is not blowing, to provide fast, flexible power and greater system stability.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, added: “By embracing bioenergy with carbon capture and storage and flexible technologies liked pumped hydro storage, we will enable the UK's power system to evolve and provide the secure and sustainable electricity supplies a zero-carbon economy needs.“

Image credit: iStock

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

IEMA reviews political party manifestos

Ahead of the UK general election next month, IEMA has analysed the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green Party manifestos in relation to the sustainability agenda.

19th June 2024

Read more

Sarah Spencer on the clear case for stronger partnerships between farmers and renewable energy developers

6th June 2024

Read more

A system-level review is needed to deliver a large-scale programme of retrofit for existing buildings. Failure to do so will risk missing net-zero targets, argues Amanda Williams

31st May 2024

Read more

Chris Seekings reports from a webinar helping sustainability professionals to use standards effectively

31st May 2024

Read more

Although many organisations focus on scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is vital to factor in scope 3 emissions and use their footprint to drive business change

31st May 2024

Read more

Joe Nisbet explores the challenges and opportunities of delivering marine net gain through offshore renewables

31st May 2024

Read more

IEMA submits response to the Future Homes Standard consultation

31st May 2024

Read more

Hello and welcome to the June/July of Transform.

31st May 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close