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Britain’s greenest day

Great Britain’s power grid saw its ‘greenest ever’ moment on Easter Monday as low demand over the holiday weekend, combined with sunny spells and strong winds, allowed renewables to dominate the country’s energy supply.

The carbon intensity of the power grid dropped to a new record low at 1pm, with zero carbon sources providing nearly four fifths of electricity, according to the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator.

“This latest record is another example of how the grid continues to transform at an astonishing rate as we move away from fossil fuel generation and harness the growth of renewable power sources,” said Fintan Slye, National Grid Electricity System Operator’s director.

“It’s an exciting time, and the progress we’re seeing with these records underlines the significant strides we’re taking towards our ambition of being able to operate the system carbon-free by 2025.”

In 2020, the UK set numerous records for coal-free generation and low-carbon power provision, achieving stretches of 67 and 55 days without relying on coal to power Britain. As a result of lockdown closures, energy requirements for industrial use and premises such as shops and offices were down 8% compared to 2019, but the demand for domestic energy climbed by 2%.

Travel restrictions also had a huge impact on the country’s carbon footprint. With a 60% drop in aviation activity, transport energy consumption in 2020 was comparable to mid-1980 levels, with diesel and petrol usage also down 17% and 21% respectively[1].

Despite the economic uncertainties caused by Covid-19, renewable generation reached new heights, contributing to a 42.9% share of generation. Renewables play a key part in the country’s mission to become net zero by 2050 and innovation within the sector is crucial.

The Government’s BEIS Energy Innovation Programme (EIP) aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes into the 2020s and 2030s. With a budget of £505 million[2], the project is huge and demand for new skills and fresh thinking is high.

Thanks to the hard work and talent of the UK’s utilities sector, the country’s energy and resources provision continues to evolve and our days will continue to get greener – here’s to setting new records!

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-innovation

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