More than 40 percent of the UK’s electricity was generated by renewable sources on Xmas day 2016.
According to figures released by power company Drax, renewables generation was up 63 percent on the same day in 2015, which saw 25 percent of British energy generated by green sources.
On Xmas Day in 2012, just 12 percent of energy generated came from renewables.
To produce the figures, Drax engaged the services of Electric Insights; a group of independent researchers from the Imperial College London.
Their report shows that although solar, wind and hydropower are still the major contributors to Britain’s renewable sector, biomass generation had quadrupled on Xmas day 2016 compared to the same day in 2015.
The major contributor to the Xmas bonanza was wind power. Three quarters of the renewable energy generated on Christmas Day came from Britain’s fleet of wind turbines, an equivalent of 31 percent of the entire country’s energy needs for the day.
Drax noted this peak was close to the record generation for wind energy in 2016, set just a couple of days before on December 23rd.
Drax is the UK’s largest producer of coal-fired energy, but the company has been awarded a government contract to begin converting one of its coal stations to wood-pellet biomass power.
The UK government successfully sought European Union approval in order to give Drax the go-ahead for a £650 million upgrade to its North Yorkshire power plant to run on wood pellets.
“These Christmas figures show that the UK energy system really is changing. Renewables are increasingly vital to the UK’s energy mix as we decarbonise and move away from coal,” said Andy Koss CEO of Drax Power.
“Biomass allows for more continuous power generation than other intermittent renewables, which is important for security of supply. With the right conditions, we can do even more, converting further units at Drax to use sustainable biomass in place of coal and through rapid response gas projects to plug the gaps created by intermittent renewables.”
The UK government plans to phase out all coal-fired power in the UK by 2025. However, not everyone agrees wood pellets and biomass generally is a good alternative fuel source for electricity generation.
In October this year, an analysis from Carbon Brief indicated solar panels in the UK generated more electricity over the previous half-year than all the nation’s coal-fired power stations combined.