Carbon emissions from the power sector fell by 107 million metric tonnes in the past decade. Isabella Cipirska explains about recent developments in an article on the inews website.
Britain’s power system is decarbonising faster than anywhere in the world, report finds
Britain’s power system has been decarbonising at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world over the last decade, a new report has found.
Carbon emissions from the power sector have fallen by around two thirds over the last ten years, from 161 million tonnes in 2010 to 54 million metric tonnes in 2019.
In the electricity sector, a decrease in demand for power proved to be the biggest driver of the decline in emissions, according to the report by academics from Imperial College London for Drax Electric Insights.
Demand fell by 13 per cent, even as the population grew by seven per cent and GDP rose by a quarter, as measures such as more energy efficient lighting, manufacturing and other efficiency measures took hold.
However the rise of electric vehicles and household heat pumps threaten to reverse this trend, the report warned.
A speedy transformation
Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, the lead author of the Electric Insights report, said: “In the past decade, we’ve seen unprecedented changes in Britain’s power system, which has transformed at a speed never seen before.
“Several factors made significant contributions to falling emissions including carbon prices, coal retirements, conversions to biomass and the growth in wind capacity.
“But reductions in electricity demand dwarfed all the others – helping to push down power prices and environmental impacts.”
He added: “If this pace of change can be maintained, renewables could provide more than half Britain’s electricity by the end of this decade and the power system could be practically carbon free.”
The renewables transition
The report found that sustainable biomass generated more power than solar energy and provided a bigger reduction in wholesale power prices.
Over the last decade, biomass produced 88.1 TWh compared to 59.86 TWh from solar – despite the latter having a far greater installed capacity, the report found.
Meanwhile, wind energy delivered a quarter of the reduction in carbon emissions.
But as reliance on weather-dependent energy sources grew, the report warned that ‘system operability’ would become more difficult and called for more system support services and greater flexibility.