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UK Fossil Fuel Use Lowest in 66 Years

Offshore wind farm
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Jan 10, 2024
4 minutes read

For the whole of 2023, the UK’s fossil fuel use in its energy mix had dropped by almost ¼. A decrease in the reliance on coal and gas has been seen across the board, thanks, in part, to the Dogger Bank wind farm off the coast of Yorkshire.

Carbon Brief Analysis

According to Carbon Brief, electricity generated from fossil fuels dropped by 22% compared to the same time across 2022. This now means that fossil fuels only account for 33% of the UK’s total energy supply.

The drop is mainly attributed to coal, as three coal power stations closed last year, with Nottinghamshire’s Ratcliffe station due to close in September this year. These milestones follow the significant one reached in 2022, where coal use hit its lowest point of demand since 1757.

The Rise of Renewables

Since 2008, when renewable technology really started to take off, the UK’s renewable capacity increased to an impressive 135 terawatt hours in 2023. The previously mentioned Dogger Bank wind farm, touted as the world’s largest offshore wind farm, will be capable of generating 3.6GW of power by 2026 when it’s expected to be completed. Last year, the wind farm supplied power to the UK grid for the first time.

Energy from low carbon sources comprises 56% of the UK’s electricity generation. While progress is being made, it is still a long way off the goal of 95% in the next six years. To create a fully decarbonised grid by 2035, a lot of work needs to be done.

A Drop in Nuclear Power

The UK saw a decline in nuclear power output, meaning the low carbon high of 2022 was 1% higher than last year’s peak of 56%. Despite various government announcements about the increased funding for nuclear power, it takes decades for any electricity to be generated, as well as costing huge amounts of money.

Globally, the supply of nuclear power has waned, hitting the lowest point in 40 years. More countries are opting to spend money on renewables and other alternatives instead. The World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) highlighted the challenges global nuclear power is facing, including national policy shifts and economic pressures.

Germany’s Progress

In a similar vein, Germany managed to reach its lowest point of carbon emissions in 70 years by severely cutting its coal use. Last year’s total of 673 million tonnes was a 46% fall from 1996 levels, which was also the lowest it’s been since the 1950s.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany had to temporarily ramp up its coal use to prevent energy shortages. Now that 2023 saw a huge decrease, the country is sending out positive signs that emissions targets are heading in the right direction.

Germany’s 2030 goal is to reduce emissions levels by 65% compared to 1990 levels and to generate 80% of its energy supply from renewables by 2030. In 2022, they were sitting at 46%. However, because of the recent reliance on coal, they will now need to achieve an annual reduction of 6% in emissions from 2023 in order to reach their 2030 goal.

Reduce Your Emissions

In order to help achieve a more sustainable grid, households can rely less on electricity generated from fossil fuels by installing solar panels themselves. Not only will this lower your energy bills, but it will provide you with free, renewable electricity that you can rely on.

Find out how much you’d pay for a solar array by clicking on the button below.