Previously thought to be a country heavily reliant on energy imports and fossil fuels, the United Kingdom has spent the better part of a decade changing its image by going big on renewable energy.
Now, according to an analysis by Carbon Brief, the UK has generated more electricity from renewable sources than from fossil fuels for the first time. Throughout the period between July and September 2019, the UK reportedly generated a total of 29.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity from renewables, compared to just 29.1TWh from fossil fuels across the same time frame.
Investing in the Future
This demonstrates the significant growth in the UK’s renewable energy sector. For comparison, back in 2009, the UK generated more than 10 times the amount of electricity from fossil fuels than it did renewables. This impressive turnaround can be attributed to the UK’s now massively expanded renewable energy generation capacity, with the country completing the world’s largest offshore wind farm earlier this month in addition to numerous other large scale renewable energy projects.
As such, much of the UK’s renewable energy comes from wind power, thanks to huge investments made in both onshore and offshore wind farms. In total, wind power contributed 18% of electricity production in the UK last year, and this is likely to be closer to 20% in 2019.
However, although this is certainly an accomplishment, it still pales in comparison to some other countries—a handful of which already generate close to 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. At the very top of this list is Iceland, which manages to generate all of its power needs with renewable energy thanks to its abundance of geothermal aquifers and hydropower plants.
Other Major Players Lag Behind
On the other end of the scale, countries including the United States and China are known to be two of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and generate only a small fraction of their energy needs from renewable sources. As it stands, the US is thought to generate just 18% of its total energy output from renewable sources, which is dwarfed by the still low 27% managed by China in 2018.
Nonetheless, following the recent Action Climate summit, numerous countries have pledged to double down on efforts to halt global warming, including reducing reliance on fossil fuels. With that said, although growth in this sector is certainly encouraging, lack of conviction by the worst offenders could undermine the efforts of those looking to protect the environment sooner, rather than later.
Which country do you think needs to step up and focus on renewable energy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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