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By 2030, Electricity Generation ‘Can Be Carbon Free’

Falling costs and new storage technology is helping to drive this trend.

Interest and investment in renewable energy sources across the globe is gathering pace as increasing numbers realise the benefits they provide. A new report published by the Friends of the Earth has suggested that the UK could well be reliably supplied with all the clean and affordable energy it needs by the year 2030 thanks to falling costs and advancements in both storage technology and grid management.

The report – Switching On: How Renewables Will Power the UK – shows that although wind and solar can be variable, they are becoming ever more predictable. Combining this with flexible backup, smarter grids and energy storage should succeed in forming the basis of an affordable and clean energy system.

In addition, it was observed that renewables could easily be the foundation of a secure energy network, since the biggest risks to supply are ageing nuclear and fossil fuel plants, as well as extreme weather events that can affect the grid.

It was further noted that costs can also be reduced if variable renewables such as solar and wind are integrated. Government figures have shown that by the year 2025, generating 50TWh of electricity from solar or wind should be approximately £500 million cheaper a year than from new gas generation.

Energy campaigner with the organisation and lead author of the report, Alasdair Cameron commented: “It’s increasingly recognised that renewables like wind and solar are among the cheapest options for generating power in the UK, and it is also clear that they can be the foundation of a stable and reliable energy system. If we get this right we should be able to provide at least three quarters of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, decarbonising our power supply as well as driving down costs and maintaining reliability.”

It was concluded that the best way to decarbonise the electricity system in the UK would be to trade power across regions, and combine renewable energy sources with high levels of storage and demand side response. If this can be achieved, renewables should succeed in producing at least 75 per cent of all electricity needs by the year 2030.

Renewable energy is often in the news these days, with National Grid reporting back in January that both on and offshore turbines succeeded in setting a new record by generating more than 10,000 megawatts of clean electricity for the first time ever.

December 8th saw a record of 10,104MW achieved between 14:00 and 14:30, which made up 23 per cent of all electricity demand across Britain at that time. Emma Pinchbeck, Executive Director with RenewableUK, said at the time how brilliant it was to see wind power breaking yet another record. She went on to add that it just goes to show how wind is becoming increasingly important as a reliable part of the energy system in the UK.

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