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Solar produced more electricity than coal over last six months

Words: Laura Edgar

The UK’s solar panels have generated more electricity than coal over the past six months, according to analysis by Carbon Brief.

Carbon Brief, a climate change data specialist, said Saturday 9 April this year was the first day ever where solar panels generated more electricity than coal in the UK.

May was the first month and now, the six months to September is the first half year when solar output was greater than that of coal.

The UK’s solar panels generated an estimated 9,964 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity during quarter two and three of 2016, (April to September).

This solar output, according to the analysis, was equivalent to 5.2 per cent of UK electricity demand for the half year-period and nearly 10 per cent higher than coal, which generated 6,342 GWh (4.7 per cent of the demand).

The analysis suggests that there were 10 weeks in a row, from 1 July, when solar output exceeded that of coal.

Solar output is affected by the UK’s seasonal cycle, with approximately three-quarters solar power generated from April to September, while coal generation is more likely to increase during winter when electricity demand peaks. Carbon Brief also notes that UK coal generate fell to zero on 9 April, for the first time since 1882, when coal-fired power stations began supplying electricity to the public for the first time.

The drop in coal comes after a shift in favour to gas-fired generators while the UK’s carbon floor price doubled on April 2015, which also shifted favour to gas over coal.

Read more about the analysis here.

Image credit | iStock