Provisional government statistics reveal that renewable energy accounted for a record-breaking 29.4% of electricity demand in the UK last year, up from 25% in 2016.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy data also shows that greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3% last year and have decreased by a whopping 43% since 1990.
This is thought to confirm previous analysis by Carbon Brief showing that CO2 emissions have fallen to levels last seen in 1890, with the decrease largely thanks to the UK’s switch away from coal.
Minister for energy and clean growth, Claire Perry, said: “Our investment has seen energy from renewable sources surge to a record-high. We are one of only a few major economies to reduce 2016-17 emissions.”
The data shows that the energy supply sector experienced the largest reduction in CO2 emissions last year, falling 8%, while there were decreases of 4% and 3% in the residential and public sectors respectively.
Wind generated 15% of the UK’s electricity demand in 2017, up from 11% the previous year and the highest amount on record, with onshore providing 8.5% and offshore 6.2%.
RenewableUK said this would have been enough to power 12.7 million UK homes, with executive director, Emma Pinchbeck, adding: “The move to a smart, renewables-led energy system is well underway.
“The cost of new offshore wind halved in 2017 and onshore wind is already the cheapest of any new power source in the UK, so it’s vital that new onshore wind should be allowed to compete in the market for the sake of consumers.”
This comes after analysis by the WWF revealed that Britain achieve 13 separate renewable energy records in 2017, including the first full day since the Industrial Revolution where there was no coal power.
The organisation said that the UK now has the fourth cleanest power system in Europe and the seventh greenest in the world, after managing to halve its carbon emissions in the electricity sector since 2012.
“We are on course for an even better year in 2018, but we need to show more ambition by bringing forward the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars,” WWF head of energy and climate change, Gareth Redmond-King, concluded.