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Cutting carbon

Renewables are on the rise

Photo credit: Orsted

Renewables made up 36% of UK electricity generation in the first quarter of this year. That’s a 10% increase since Bulb started in 2015. We take a look at what’s behind these figures.

The latest renewable stats are out, and we like what we see. Renewable energy made up 35.8% of all electricity generated in the UK in the first quarter of 2019. When Bulb started in 2015, renewable generation made up 25% of the UK’s total electricity - that’s a staggering 10% increase in the last four years.

Graph of renewable share of UK electricity generation
35.8% of UK electricity was generated from renewable sources in the first quarter of this year

While all renewable sources have grown in the last few years, bioenergy and wind have the biggest share. 

Bioenergy includes burning landfill gas, sewage gas, household waste, plant and animal biomass, and anaerobic digestion. Right now, there’s no consensus on whether burning biomass has lower greenhouse gas emissions overall than fossil fuel alternatives. It could have a potentially significant long-term role in helping to meet UK climate goals, but until the carbon savings can be guaranteed and verified, we won’t buy electricity generated this way.

Wind power is well suited to the UK’s geography. Both onshore and offshore wind are crucial ways to increase renewable electricity generation. Onshore wind hasn’t grown as quickly as offshore wind, because current government policy effectively blocks the development of new onshore wind farms. To continue increasing renewable electricity generation on the UK, we’ll need government to champion all renewable technologies.

More people are on green tariffs than ever before

Before Bulb, only 1% of the UK were on a renewable tariff. Today, that figure is closer to 10%. More people on affordable renewable tariffs helps drive the market for green energy. As more people make the switch, we’ll need more renewable generation to meet this demand. For example, if 50% of the UK chose a renewable tariff, the UK would have to supply 50% of its energy from renewable sources. 

It feels good to see this change happening, especially as the UK public are the driving force behind it. We’ve already seen big moves in the market this year, like EON switching their residential customers to 100% renewable electricity.

There’s still a way to go

The UK is definitely heading in the right direction. But to reach Net Zero by 2050 the share of renewables in UK electricity generation needs to increase from 35% today to 90% by 2050. To be on track for that, renewable generation needs to continue to grow by 9% each year between now and 2050. 

The figures show that UK renewables have been growing at an average of 18% each year since 2009, so it’s well within our reach. 

Header image photo credit: Ørsted's Walney offshore wind farm, one of our generators

Bulb has signed a cross-party letter asking the government to provide the same support for onshore wind as other renewable technologies. There's an easy way to ask your MP to sign the letter too.

Join the conversation in the Bulb Community.