Celebrating a low carbon Christmas

Great Britain’s fairy lights and roasted turkeys were powered by the cleanest electricity mix ever on Christmas Day 2017 – rounding off a record breaking year for power generation in Britain.

According to analysis of Electric Insights data by researchers at Imperial College London, in collaboration with Drax, carbon emissions from power generation were just 142g/kWh on Christmas day – more than 10% lower than the same day last year.

Gas generators provided over 30% of the required capacity and coal provided just 1.4% on Christmas day – compared to 17.9% for gas and 7.1% for coal in 2016.

Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London said: “This was achieved in spite of generation from renewables being lower than on Christmas Day last year; mainly due the continued reduction in coal over this year, being swapped for gas power stations.”

The low carbon Christmas comes after a whole host of renewables records were broken throughout the year and with much less coal on the system, helping to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions by around half of what they were five years ago.

Dr Staffell said: “Several real milestones were reached by renewable electricity throughout 2017 – we set a new record in March for renewable generation, which was then broken again in June.

“It helped that wind speeds were relatively high during the year, so wind farm output was up by around one third compared to last year. Also, electricity demand was a little lower, meaning that renewable output formed a bigger part of the mix.”

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO said: “Britain’s energy system is rapidly changing, as the Carbon Price Floor continues to force coal off the system and gas and renewables play an increasingly important role in helping to reduce carbon emissions – all year round.

“At Drax we have upgraded half of the power station to run on flexible, reliable, sustainable biomass. Around 70% of the power we produce is now renewable – enough for four million households.

“We are also looking at repowering two of our remaining coal generating units with gas to provide up to 3.6GW of power and developing up to 200MW of battery storage.

“With the four rapid response gas power stations we are developing, which will help to support the system and enable more renewables onto the grid, Drax are playing an important part in helping to change the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future.”

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