2023 had  the cleanest electricity mix in 8 years

Article posted

16th Jan 2024

Read time

3-5 min read


Mollie Pinnington

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The year 2023 marked a significant turning point in Britain's electricity generation, etched in history as one of the cleanest since 2015. This wasn't merely a fleeting achievement; it was a sustained trend reflecting a growing reliance on renewable sources and a gradual phasing out of fossil fuels.

Renewables have took over a lot of the UKs electricity demand in the past couple of years.  The headline statistic speaks volumes: zero-carbon sources accounted for 51% of the electricity used in Britain in 2023. For perspective, this stands in stark contrast to fossil fuels, with gas contributing 32% and coal a mere 1%.

Leading the charge were the ever-powerful winds, with wind farms churning out 29.4% of the nation's electricity. This included record-breaking moments like exceeding 21GW of generation for the first time, a testament to the growing capacity and efficiency of wind power.

Nuclear energy remained a reliable partner, providing 14.2% of the electricity mix. While its long-term future remains a topic of debate, its consistent output offered valuable baseload power.

Although still a smaller player, solar power saw a notable rise, reaching 4.9% of the mix. This is a promising sign, indicating the increasing viability and affordability of solar technology.

Biomass and hydro added their share, while imports and energy storage played supportive roles, showcasing the diversification of the energy landscape.

A Record-Breaking Year: 2023 wasn't simply about static numbers; it was a year of continuous progress. December marked the 15th consecutive month where zero-carbon generation surpassed fossil fuels, and several noteworthy records were set:

  • Maximum zero-carbon record of 87.6% attained on January 4th.
  • Lowest carbon intensity over the year at 27gCO2/kWh.
  • Highest solar power input recorded on April 20th at 10.97GW.

These achievements highlight the momentum behind the clean energy transition, offering a glimpse into a future powered by sustainable sources.

The shift towards a cleaner electricity mix wasn't happenstance. It was driven by several key factors:

  • Government policies: Supportive policies like renewable energy subsidies and carbon pricing mechanisms encouraged investment in clean technologies.
  • Technological advancements: Advances in wind turbine technology, solar panel efficiency, and energy storage solutions made renewables more cost-competitive.
  • Public pressure: Growing environmental awareness and concerns about climate change fueled public demand for a cleaner energy future.

Despite the progress, it's essential to acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead. Intermittency issues with renewables, the need for grid modernisation, and the complex geopolitical landscape all pose potential hurdles.

Nevertheless, 2023 serves as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that a cleaner electricity future is not only possible but achievable. Britain's success story offers valuable lessons for other nations around the world, proving that with the right combination of policy, technology, and public will, we can illuminate a brighter path towards a sustainable energy future.                                               

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