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UK greenhouse gas emissions fall for seventh consecutive year

31 March 2020

Government figures have shown that a record year for renewable energy in 2019 meant that the UK experienced a seventh year in a row of falling greenhouse gas emissions. The provisional figures were revealed on March 26 and reveal a 3.6% fall in emissions compared with 2018, a 28% difference from 2010, and a 45% drop from 1990 levels.

Hornsea wind farm - Image: Wikimedia
Hornsea wind farm - Image: Wikimedia

Announcing the figures, Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “With record-breaking levels of renewable electricity on the grid we are well placed to build on these efforts in the months and years ahead, while continuing to support the economy through the coronavirus outbreak.”

The Guardian reports that energy demand has already dropped by around 7% in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent lockdown. While many people are using a greater amount of electricity in their homes, this is offset by the sudden drop in electricity usage by factories, construction sites and offices.

Over a third of the UK’s electricity in 2019 was generated by renewable energy sources which is a new record. The increased use of wind farms, solar panels and bio-mass-felled power plants combined with the decreasing demand for electricity is likely to see even lower emissions for 2020.

The Guardian also reports that wind power alone was responsible for almost a fifth of the UK’s electricity over the course of 2019. This was boosted by wind projects such as the Hornsea offshore project, the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn said the figures show “just how radically the UK’s energy system is changing with low-cost renewables at the vanguard.” RenewableUK is a not for profit renewable energy trade association.

“This will continue as we build a modern energy system, moving away from fossil fuels to reach net zero emissions as fast as possible. As well as wind, we’ll use innovative new technologies like renewable hydrogen and marine power, and we’ll scale up battery storage,” Onn added.

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