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UK sees record-breaking year for renewable energy

The UK saw more electricity generated by renewable energy sources like solar power in 2022 than ever before (Getty Images/ iStock)
The UK saw more electricity generated by renewable energy sources like solar power in 2022 than ever before (Getty Images/ iStock)

The UK saw a record amount of its electricity generated from renewable energy sources in 2022, according to new figures.

Researchers from Imperial College London found wind, solar, biomass and hydro power accounted for 40 per cent of the country’s electricity this year – up from 35 per cent in 2021.

Despite this increase in clean energy output, the report commissioned by Drax Electric Insights also found that the share of fossil fuel energy production has also risen.

“This has been a year like no other for the energy industry,” said Iain Staffell from Imperial College London, who was lead author of the report.

“The public are feeling the pain of high gas prices on their energy bills, even though renewables are providing the grid with more cheap, green electricity than ever before. The lesson from 2022 is that we need to break our addiction to fossil fuels once and for all if we want to lower costs and better secure energy supplies.”

Dr Staffell said he hoped increased investment in clean energy technologies could help the UK become “Europe’s renewable electricity powerhouse”, cutting energy bills and boosting the economy by exporting power to neighbouring countries.

The latest report suggests this trend has already begun, with Britain becoming a net exporter of electricity for the first time in more than a decade.

Exporting an estimated 1.9TWh of electricity in 2022 generated more than £3 billion for the UK economy, according to the report.

“We can accelerate and strengthen Britain’s long-term energy security by ending our reliance on expensive, imported fossil fuels and instead increase investment in homegrown renewables, and innovative green technologies,” said Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner.

Drax claims to be the UK’s biggest renewable energy producer by output, thanks in part to its vast biomass plants. Climate scientists have questioned the UK’s classing of biomass as a renewable energy source due to the amount of carbon emissions it produces.

A 2021 report from energy think tank Ember found that Drax’s biomass plant in Yorkshire was the biggest single source of carbon dioxide in the UK.