'Green' Christmas as renewables provide 41% of UK's electricity on December 25


The UK experienced a "green" Christmas this year, with more than two-fifths of electricity coming from renewables, figures suggest.

Over the day, wind, solar, hydropower and biomass provided 41% of the UK's electricity, up from 25% for Christmas 2015, according to data from Electric Insights, from Imperial College London, commissioned by energy company Drax.

Three quarters of that came from wind power, which supplied more than 30% of the total electricity generated on Christmas Day, the figures showed.

Separate figures from the MyGridGB website, which estimated the share of renewables slightly higher at 43%, suggest that low carbon sources overall, including nuclear power, accounted for 70% of the UK's electricity on Christmas Day.

The record figures, which also saw gas account for just 17% of power and 7% come from coal, were down to high amounts of wind power combined with low demand, as most businesses are closed.

Demand peaked around lunchtime as people cooked their turkeys, with energy storage and gas used to meet the increase in electricity use, according to analysis from MyGridGB.

The figures from Drax, which has switched half of its Yorkshire coal-fired power station to burn wood pellets, show that biomass generation has increased from 0.5 gigawatts (GW) on average on December 25 2015 to 2 GW this Christmas Day.

Andy Koss, Drax Power chief executive, said: "These Christmas figures show that the UK energy system really is changing.

"Renewables are increasingly vital to the UK's energy mix as we decarbonise and move away from coal."

Drax wants to convert more units at its power station to biomass, though environmentalists have raised concerns about how environmentally-friendly burning wood pellets is, and is developing plans to build new gas plants to meet "gaps" caused by intermittent renewables such as wind and solar.