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Three-quarters of electricity from renewables by 2030

Words: Laura Edgar
Renewable energy / Shutterstock_153683465

At least 75 per cent of the UK’s electricity should come from renewable sources by 2030, says the author of a new report.

Switching On: How Renewables Will Power the UK, by campaigners Friends of the Earth states that with the cost of renewable energy falling and advances in grid management and storage technology, the UK can “reliably be supplied with the clean, affordable energy it needs”.

The report claims that investors can’t ignore that onshore wind and solar are becoming the cheapest energy sources.

It notes that in 2016 renewables generated a quarter of UK electricity – up from 7 per cent in 2010.

Switching on suggests:

  • Wind and solar are variable but are becoming increasingly predictable. Combined with a flexible backup, energy storage and smarter grids, wind and solar should be able to form the basis of a clean and affordable energy system.
  • Citing government figures, the report states that by 2025, generating 50 terawatt hours of electricity from new wind or solar should be around £500 million a year cheaper than from new gas generation, including balancing costs. Therefore, integrating variable renewables will help reduce costs.
  • According to the report, the biggest risk to the UK’s energy supply is disruption from ageing fossil fuel and nuclear plants, as well as extreme weather affecting the grid. To counter this, renewables can be the foundation of a secure energy system.

Alasdair Cameron, report author and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s increasingly recognised that renewables like wind and solar are among the cheapest options for generating power in the UK, and it is also clear that they can be the foundation of a stable and reliable energy system.

“If we get this right we should be able to provide at least three-quarters of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, decarbonising our power supply as well as driving down costs and maintaining reliability.”

To decarbonise the UK’s electricity system, the report explains that renewable energy sources, high levels of storage and trading power across regions are the way to achieve it.

Cameron adds the renewables sector is where the “smart money” is going. He said now is the time to pressure candidates in the general election so that next government reforms the energy market.

“Electricity generation can be carbon-free by 2030, we can fall off a cliff edge or we can lead the world.”

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