Climate Action

New analysis shows UK electricity generation at its lowest since 1994

Today, Carbon Brief released analysis using government and industry data to give an overview of the UK electricity generation in 2018.

  • 03 January 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

Today, Carbon Brief released analysis using government and industry data to give an overview of the UK electricity generation in 2018.

Carbon Brief specialises in clear, data-driven articles and graphics to help improve the understanding of climate change.

The analysis showed that in 2018, UK electricity generation dropped to its lowest since 1994, when Tony Blair was president. Notably, the amount of electricity generated per person in the UK has fallen by 24 per cent since 2005.

The decline in electricity can be explained in number of ways, including the adoption of energy efficient regulations and energy-efficient lighting. It has been found that low-energy lightbulbs can cut electricity use by up to 90 per cent, a key method to reduce energy emissions.

Dr. Simon Evans, Deputy Editor at Carbon Brief and author of the analysis, revealed to Climate Action that “energy efficiency is as important as renewable energy in the decarbonising of the UK energy industry.”

While general electricity output was down, the analysis highlighted that output from renewable sources was at a record high, generating an estimated 33 per cent of the UK total in 2018.

The included the capacity of offshore wind farms nearly doubling over the course of 2018 and solar generation increasing by 11 per cent, reaching 13TWh.

The combined share of UK electricity generation from fossil fuels fell to 46 per cent in 2018, a record low. This is primarily due to another 25 per cent fall in coal, shows Carbon Brief analysis. In addition to this, gas generation was down 4 per cent in 2018 and nuclear generation fell by 7 per cent.

Looking to the future, the Committee on Climate Change has predicted electricity demand in 2030 to be up 8 per cent on 2018 levels.

However, Dr. Simon Evans explained that the uptake of electric vehicles will play a “significant role” in how electricity use will change in the next ten years.

In 2017, the UK Government announced that that all new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution. In October 2018, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee called for this date to be brought forward to 2032 to ensure climate goals are met.

Real the analysis in full here.