Britain’s electricity system produced its lowest ever carbon emissions in one day at the end of June, the electrical power company Drax has reported.
On June 30, Britain’s carbon emissions from electricity dropped to just 97g per kWh – breaking the previous record of 104g per kWh set last year.
The result also meant that the system hit the Committee on Climate Change’s target of producing less than 100g per kWh each day by 2030 for the first time.
June 30 was also the first day in which renewables powered over half of Britain’s electricity, making up 55.3% of the energy mix overall and beating the previous record of 49.4% on September 21 2018.
39% of the country’s electricity demand that day was met by wind, 9% by solar, 8% by biomass and 1% by hydro. Fossil fuels supplied just 9.5% of electricity in the mid-afternoon.
Researchers attributed the ‘clean record’ to June 30 being both a sunny, windy day in summer when demand is traditionally lower, and a Sunday when fewer people were at work or school.
Drax revealed the data as part of its new Electric Insight report, which was produced on its behalf by a team of academics from Imperial College London.
Dr Iain Staffell, one of the academics who analysed the data, said that Britain’s power system is decarbonising faster than any other country in the world.
‘We have spent more than half the summer without a single coal power station turned on, and renewables are breaking new records all the time,’ Dr Staffell said.
‘As a result our power stations are producing 100 million tonnes less CO2 per year than they were just six years ago.’
Dr. Staffell compared the amount of carbon being saved by the move as equivalent to taking every car and van off the UK’s roads.
Overall, the UK saw its lowest ever monthly demand for electricity in June 2019 of 29.4 GW, beating the previous record set in August 2017 of 29.6 GW.
CO2 emissions from power on June 30 were 72% lower than the most carbon-intensive day of 2019 so far, January 24, which had a carbon intensity of 347g per kWh and saw 71% of power come from fossil fuels.
Dr. Staffell commented that the latest figures show ‘fantastic progress’ towards decarbonisation but he added that the UK still has a long way to go to meet its 2050 net zero carbon target.
‘To make a real difference to the climate crisis, we must waste no time in using this low-carbon electricity to clean up our transport and buildings,’ he added.
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