How long until the UK’s energy grid could be completely renewable?
Energy consumption has been the main headline for a while now. The recent AutumnStatement has painted a bleak picture for next spring and we’ve witnessed a lot of discourse around where we stand in terms of an energy price cap.
While we try to ride out the storm and work out where we go from here, one area that’s worth
prioritising is renewable energy resources. Gas isn’t the only source of energy and if we
begin to look elsewhere now, we could be better placed in the future.
But what happens when most of the energy arriving at the grid is renewable? And will we
reach a 100% renewable energy grid?
Where we are
While many of us rely on gas and fossil fuels to generate energy in our homes and businesses
at the moment, the figures around the type of energy we consume may be surprising to some.
In October 2022, zero carbon sources provided 57% of generation, peaking at 85%. This
meant that over half of the energy generated in October came from zero carbon sources.
Add to that the significant shift in coal use – where 0.4% was used in October compared with
3.6% in October 2017 – and it’s clear that we’re moving in the right direction. If we’re to
reduce our carbon footprint and move the dial closer to carbon net zero by 2050, a target laid
out by the UK Government, the figures show we’re gradually getting there.
The main sources of renewable energy
Wind energy is by far one of the main sources of renewable energy. In late 2021, according
to the National Grid, wind power accounted for over one-quarter of the UK’s electricity
generation. This year, we’re seeing interesting changes to these figures. The country used
more wind energy (36.2%) that gas (36%) in October. A tiny lead, but an interesting one for
one of the most accessible renewable resources we have.
Bioenergy, which is the burning of renewable organic materials, also contributed a significant
amount in Q4 2021, accounting for around 13% of energy production. Solar power,
meanwhile, added 1.8% and hydropower contributed 2.1%.
We’re seeing more renewable energy used over the months and years. We’re already seeing
significant change in how we source energy even in a short five-year period.
Homeowners are already in a place where moving away from gas is on the cards, given that
the government is phasing out gas boilers in new builds. For business leaders, now is a good
time to consider switching to the energy used in office spaces and across business-related
activities, such as events and conferences. For guidance, expert advice from an energy transition
law firm could provide a plan and support.
When will the grid be fully renewable?
Right now, the aim is not to make the grid fully renewable, but to work alongside other green
energy resources. However, if we continue to see figures like those we’ve had in recent
months, we could see renewables taking the lion’s share of the energy mix in the coming
years – which will help us to reach the government’s goal of reaching 100% zero-carbon
generation by 2035.