Britain is being powered by record levels of green energy, after a surprise increase in electricity generated from wind, sun and waves. Renewables accounted for 11 per cent of the UK's electricity in the first three months of 2012, compared with 7.7 per cent from January to March 2011.
There were big rises in power from onshore wind farms, while generation from hydroelectric and bioenergy plants also rose sharply, putting Britain much closer to meeting its legally binding commitment to get 15 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. The increases could also go some way to solving the looming energy crisis, as decades-old nuclear, coal and gas power stations are taken out of service.
The latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that gas accounted for 27 per cent of electricity generated in the first quarter of 2012, its lowest level in the past 14 years. High gas prices were blamed. Coal accounted for 42 per cent, up by a fifth, while nuclear fell from 19 to 17 per cent.
Onshore and offshore wind generation was up by around 50 per cent year-on-year. Hydroelectricity output was 43 per cent higher between January and March 2012 than a year earlier, and thermal renewables rose by 20 per cent. Solar, wave and tidal grew by more than 800 per cent, but remain the smallest renewables sector with most technologies still in their infancy.
Gordon Edge, of the trade body RenewableUK, claimed the figures were proof that "green growth is beginning to take hold". Read more here.