UK Undergoing ‘Remarkable Shift’ in Power Generation

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Renewable Energy
United Kingdom
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Natural gas-fired generation continues to provide much of the electricity in the UK, but renewable power in total at times has taken the lead spot in the country’s generation mix over the past several months. The country has moved almost entirely away from coal, which a decade ago teamed with natural gas to provide three-quarters of Great Britain’s power.

The UK government in 2019 passed laws that require the country to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, beyond the previous target of at least an 80% reduction from 1990 levels. The UK also plans to phase out all coal-fired generation by 2025. Chris Skidmore, the UK’s Energy and Clean Growth Minister when the legislation was passed, at the time said, “We’re leading the world yet again in becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 while remaining committed to growing the economy—putting clean growth at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy. We’re pioneering the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps driving prosperity by seizing the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy.”

Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime minister, announced plans in November 2021 for what his government has called a “green industrial revolution,” which includes expanding the country’s use of nuclear and hydrogen power. Johnson said the 10-point plan included as part of the initiative reiterates previous pledges to end the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2030, and quadruple the amount of offshore wind power capacity within a decade. Though environmentalists praised much of the plan, some say it does not move fast enough to end the use of fossil fuels.