UK electricity generation by source: How much is renewable?

In the last few years, we’ve seen more and more companies enter the market with a large focus on green energy. This includes brands like Octopus and Bulb, who maintain that all of the electricity they supply is 100% renewable. Currently, Green Energy UK are the only company in the UK that offer 100% renewable electricity and gas, as gas is pretty difficult to supply.

But with more of these companies using renewable energy sources, where does that leave us with the current UK electricity generation circumstances? Well, we still get a decent amount of our energy from burning fossil fuels, and we’re going to look at more precise statistics in a minute.

UK electricity generation

The government goal over the past decade was to reach 30% renewable energy usage where electricity is concerned, and reduce the amount of fossil fuels being burned. We’ve definitely gone past this goal, with around 42% of the UK’s energy coming from renewable sources.

And out of this 42%, the energy is generally mainly wind power with some solar power (it usually varies a lot across each year), with a little bit of hydro energy generation thrown in. The UK is one of the best in Europe when it comes to wind power generation, and this has made up an increasing part of our electricity generation over the past few years, and will likely be the source of a growing percentage of renewable energy overall.

Now, this does mean that when it comes to electricity, almost 30% of our energy still comes from fossil fuels. This has decreased a lot in recent years, so we’re definitely going in the right direction. To make up the numbers, a good slice of our energy comes from nuclear and biomass energy too.

Main renewable energy sources

As mentioned, there are two key contributors to the UK’s renewable energy generation – this varies for each country across Europe, depending on what is naturally available to them. Of course, countries like Norway are heavily seeking out more wind farm locations, as their weather means that they’re perfect for it, with heavy demand from energy companies.

  • Wind power – Like Norway, we’re in the perfect position to take advantage of our weather, especially across the North of the UK. Wind power actually makes up the most of our renewable electricity generation, and in 2020 it was responsible for 25% of our total energy usage. However, this has decreased for 2021 as there’s less favourable conditions.
  • Solar power – The amount of energy that we can generate from solar power varies from month to month. For example, Q3 of 2020 was great for solar, whereas Q4 things dropped off a bit (expectedly) – it made up just a few percent of the UK’s electric in 2020. This seems like a small amount, but as more firms seek to switch to 100% renewable electricity, it’s hopefully only going to increase.
  • Bioenergy – Biomass is another staple in the UK renewable energy market, and it’s made up of recently living organic materials (plants and animals). It’s a pretty good percentage of our overall energy generation here in the UK, and some years can make up as much as 10-15% of our electricity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it looks like the demand from the public is going to increase when it comes to renewable energy. However, it’s a little bit tough on firms as the amount of energy generatio via wind and solar can swing drastically each year depending on the conditions – the storms in 2020 made for great generation, but that’s dropped off a bit this year. Hopefully, with the introduction of more wind farms and solar stations we’ll be able to keep increasing our reliance on renewable as opposed to fossil fuels.