Unless greenhouse gases are controlled, Britain faces an Arctic climate this century due to the loss of warm waters from the Gulf Stream.(see link at bottom of page). Early October 2008, a new “Energy & Climate” cabinet position was created to focus on climate change which ended July 2016. In 2000, the proportion of the UK’s electricity supplied from renewable sources stood at 2.7%. 2015 figures show most of the UK’s electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, mainly natural gas 30% and coal (23%). Nuclear comprises 21% and renewables made up 25%.  link

September 2016: Coal generated a record low 6% of the UK’s electricity in spring 2016, compared to 20% in the same period last year. Natural gas rose from 30% to 45% with renewables and nuclear producing 46%. link  In 2014, the UK electricity mix was 31% coal, 31% gas, 19% renewables and 18% nuclear. In recent years, the UK has added thousands of renewable power schemes to its ageing and dwindling fleet of coal, nuclear and gas plants. Most of the UK’s solar farms are concentrated in the south. The UK’s hydroelectric generation is limited to Scotland and Wales, where plentiful rainfall, mountains and sparsely populated valleys make it easier to build dams. Windfarms are skewed towards the coastlines and higher ground where consistent wind speeds are more reliable. (link with maps)  

November 2012: Energy efficiency measures could replace 22 power stations. link 
March 2011: Climate change 'will wreak havoc on Britain's coastline by 2050’.   link
January 2014: Flood-hit UK must prepare for more extreme weatherlink                 


Latest news:

Nov. 23 2017: UK ends subsidies for renewables projects before 2025. The government said there would be no new subsidies for clean power projects until 2025 at the earliest. The policy will only affect projects generating electricity before 2025, so would not stop firms signing contracts for power stations coming online after 2025. That means the backers of new nuclear power stations are unlikely to be affected by the decision, because none was expected to be built by then. But it could be a blow for the companies wanting to build solar farms, onshore windfarms and other clean power plants at an earlier date. link



  • Britain's greenhouse gas emissions
  • Wind Power
  • Solar Power
  • Renewables
  • Tidal / Wave Power
  • Britain's nuclear industry
  • Coal / Carbon Capture
  • Fracking 
  • Miscellaneous
Britain's greenhouse gas emissions 

The Committee on Climate Change undertakes an annual assessment of whether the UK is on course to meet its carbon budgets, and reports this progress to Parliament. This includes tracking the latest emissions data and identifying underlying progress, as opposed to fluctuations related to temporary factors (e.g. the weather). UK emissions were 35% below 1990 levels in 2014, and provisional figures show emissions fell a further 3% in 2015. link

March 2017: UKs greenhouse gases 42% lower than in 1990. There was a 6% drop from 2015 to 2016 due to a dramatic decline in the use of coal to make electricity. Electricity generation saw a decline of 54% in CO2 emissions compared to 1990, but those from transport have actually increased, albeit by just one per cent. Residential emissions have fallen by 15%. However the UK is currently not on track to meet targets to reduce emissions for the late 2020s and early 2030.  link

January 2017: Electricity in Britain is cleanest it has been in 60 years. Britain’s electricity was the cleanest it had been in 60 years, as coal collapsed and renewables rose to record levels. Less than 10% of British electricity - excluding Northern Ireland - was generated from coal, down from more than 40% in 2012. Wind comprised 10%, solar 3.2%.  link

March 2016: Rapid decline of coal use leads to lower emissions. Figures show a 4% reduction in the national annual emissions of CO2, with coal now burning at its lowest level in at least 150 years. The government has pledged to close all coal plants by 2025.  link

September 2010: Imports mask emissions totals. While statistics show that Britain’s emissions are declining, down anywhere from 15% to 21% between 1990 and 2009, if imports of manufactured goods for the British market are included, there has been an actual increase of about 12% according to Professor Robert Watson, the UK government’s chief environmental scientist. link

March 2010: A new report shows that 253m tonnes of CO2 are released overseas each year in the manufacture of products bound for the UK, the equivalent of 4.3 tonnes per person. The average per capita carbon footprint for Britain is 9.7 tonnes excluding emissions from imported goods. link.  (The World Bank records UK emissions in 32013 as 7.1 tonnes per capita - link)

July 2014: UK retains target of 50% emission cuts by 2025. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the U.K. will keep a target to cut greenhouse gases by half through 2025. (Britain charts its emissions cuts in five-year carbon budgets.) The fourth carbon budget would allow U.K. emissions to total 1,950 million tons of CO2 from 2023 through 2027. That’s 390 million tons a year, half the 780 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution the U.K. emitted in 1990, the base year for the emissions-limiting Kyoto Protocol treaty. link

Britain's emissions total as of 2014: UK emissions of the basket of seven greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol were provisionally estimated to be 520.5 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). This was 8.4% lower than the 2013 figure. In 2014, UK net emissions of carbon dioxide were provisionally estimated to be 422.0 million tonnes (Mt). This was 9.7% lower than the 2013. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for 82% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, the latest year for which final emissions are available. Methane accounted for 9.9%, Nitrous Oxide for 4,9%, HFCs for 2,85% and three smaller ones for just 0.35%  pdf source

Wind Power

May 2017: World's biggest wind turbines go online near Liverpool. The planet’s biggest and most powerful wind turbines (at 8MW) have begun generating electricity off the Liverpool coast, cementing Britain’s reputation as a world leader in the technology. The 32 turbines bring UK offshore wind power capacity to 5.3GW, more than any other country in the world link  (A single rotation of one of those giant blade scould power an average British home for 29 hours. Spinning at their fastest, the blades rotate nearly 30 times per minute. link}

January 2016: Record-breaking year for wind energy in UK. According to figures, 11% of the UK’s electricity was sourced from wind power in 2015, up from 9.5% the previous year. Overall, wind provided enough electricity to meet the demands of more than 8.25 million homes, almost a third of UK households, compared to 6.7 million homes in 2014. link

November 2013: Installation increases 79% in a year. The installed capacity of the UK’s offshore wind sector has risen by 79% in a year. In the period from July 2012 to June 2013, capacity increased from 1,858MW to 3,321MW. Onshore and offshore, a total of 2,721 MW were installed between July 2012 and June 2013, taking the UK’s total wind capacity up from 6,856 to 9,710 MW, a 40% increase. link  

[April 2012:, 66% of Britons were in favour and just 8% against when asked: "to what extent are you in favour of or opposed to the use of wind power in the UK". link]

UK plans for world's largest off-shore wind farms 

August 2016: Second phase of world’s biggest off-shore windfarm approved. Fifty-five miles off the coast of Grimsby, the project by Denmark’s Dong Energy is expected to deliver 1,800MW of electricity providing energy to 1.8m UK homes. Offshore wind is already on course to meet 10% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2020. link

November 2014: UK approves 750MW offshore wind project. The U.K. approved construction of one of the biggest offshore wind farms as the country chases a European Union target to get 15% of all energy from renewables by 2020. The consent installation up to 750MW of turbines at the Walney Extension project in the Irish Sea off northwest England’s Cumbria  coast.  link

April 2012: Wales 299MW farm approved. Vattenfall’s planned Pen Y Cymoedd development in South Wales, which when built will be the largest wind farm in England and Wales, consists of 76 wind turbines, and is expected to generate enough power for up to 206,000 homes a year. link 

July 2009: Small scale wind turbines – Britain taking lead. Small domestic wind turbines could provide enough clean electricity to power more than 800,000 UK homes, according to the Energy Saving Trust. In the first study of its kind, the EST spent a year monitoring small wind turbines from 500W to 6kW in size, in 57 different urban and rural locations around the UK. Previous studies have suggested that small turbines in residential areas fail to generate enough power to justify their installation. In total, small-scale wind in domestic properties could supply around 3.1% of the UK's energy demand from homes.  link

London Array - world's largest off-shore wind farm:

January 2016: Two successive months at the end of 2015 brought the London Array’s yearly net output to some 2,500,000 MWh, the equivalent of providing 600,000 UK households with electricity. link

April 2013: Final turbine comes on line making the London Array the world’s largest wind farm at 630MW. Britain has 3,300 megawatts of installed offshore wind capacity, more than the rest of the world combined. It plans to reach 18,000 megawatts by the end of the decade. link      

October 2012: The first power has been generated from the London Array project, around 12 miles off the coasts of Kent and Essex in the Thames Estuary. Eventually 175 turbines will generate enough power to supply more than 470,000 homes. Already 151 turbines have been installed since construction began in March 2011, and when the first phase is completed by the end of 2012, the 630-megawatt scheme will be the largest offshore windfarm in the world. If approved, the second phase will add enough turbines to bring the total capacity of the windfarm to 870MW. link

Solar Power

April 2016: Solar now 12GW of electricity-generating capacity. Solar power installations have surged in the UK over the past two years, driven by incentives and falling costs. The industry says there is now 12GW of electricity-generating capacity, out of the UK’s total capacity of 80-90GW. That growth is likely to flatten out in coming months due to government cuts to incentives. Subsidies for large solar farms end this month, and the number of householders putting solar on their roofs has already plummeted since the changes took effect in February. link  [According to Wikipedia, as of November 2016, there was a total installed capacity of 11.429GW of solar power, placing the United Kingdom in sixth place internationally in terms of total installed capacity.]

November 2017: Enormous solar plant planned for Kent. Since the government axed subsidies to solar farms 18 months ago, this 900 acre site in Kent would provide enough power for around 110,000 households if it comes online in 2020 as proposed. link

January 2015: Solar power almost doubled in 2014. By the end of 2014 there was almost 5GW of solar photovoltaic panels installed, up from 2.8GW at the end of 2013. The solar industry said there were now enough panels installed in the UK to supply the equivalent of 1.5 million homes. link

February 2012: Solar growth achieves 1,000MW in less than 2 years. Explosive growth in solar panel installations on homes, schools and fields in the UK over the past 22 months saw the green energy source pass through the symbolic milestone of 1,000MW on Wednesday. Since the feed-in tariff scheme was launched in April 2010  to pay homeowners and businesses for generating their own green energy, the amount of solar has grown by more than 41 times; it was just 26MW of solar before the scheme. link


March 2016: Renewable power in the UK accounted for 24.7% of the total electricity produced in 2015, an increase of 5.6% on the previous year. link
September 2016:  UK will miss its 2020 renewable energy targets, warn MPs - link

January 2016: Scotland eyes 50% renewable energy by 2030 in shift away from North Sea oil. The Scottish government has taken the first steps to heavily cutting the country’s reliance on North Sea oil and gas after calling for 50% of Scotland’s entire energy needs to come from renewables by 2030.Currently, 47% of Scotland’s total energy use comes from petroleum products largely extracted from Scotland’s North Sea oil platforms, and 27% from domestic and imported natural gas needed for home heating. link

January 2017: Study says renewables investment in UK will fall 95% through 2020.  
Investment in windfarms will fall off a “cliff edge” over the next three years and put the UK’s greenhouse gas reduction targets at risk
according to the Green Alliance, with investment in wind, solar, biomass power and waste-to-energy projects declining by 95% between 2017 and 2020. More than 1bn of future investment in renewable energy projects disappeared over the course of 2016.  link

November 2014: Renewable energy overtakes nuclear as Scotland's top power source. Clean, renewable energy sources are now Scotland's number one source of power, according to new figures from the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. The figures, which include solar, wind, hydro and biomass, showed that renewable energy generated 32% more electricity than any other single source in the first half on 2014. link

November 2012: Britain on the 'cusp of an energy renaissance'. link   
Update - December 2012 – more renewables, less nuclear. The latest government figures now show only 3.3GW of new nuclear plant to be built by 2025 and 9.9GW by 2030. This compares with 4.8GW by 2025 and 12GW by 2030 as recorded in its 2011 energy and emissions projections. The department is more optimistic about wind and solar, however, expecting 42GW of renewable power to be in place by 2030 compared with the 33GW projected in the 2011 statistical survey. link

May 2013: Low carbon best bet long-term for Britain. A parliamentary advisory committee has estimated that British households will save 45 billion if the government hitches its electricity supply to low-carbon sources such as wind and nuclear rather than gas. Overturning the general consensus that green electricity is more expensive than gas-generated power, the committee finds that while “decarbonising” the energy supply will cost more in the next few years, the expense will quickly become negligible and will start paying handsome dividends after 2030.  link

September 2017: Wales should generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, the Welsh Government has said. The current figure for electricity from renewables is 32%. In June, government advisers warned a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in Wales by 2020 was likely to be missed. link   May 2009: Wales plans for energy self-sufficiency with renewables in 20 years. The government development plans, which are legally binding, are far in advance of anything planned for England or Scotland. The proposals would make Wales one of only three countries in the world legally bound to develop "sustainability".  link     

September 2010: Scotland should produce enough renewable electricity to meet all its power demand by 2025. The new national target is to generate 80% of electricity from renewables by 2020.  link   Update - June 2013Scotland misses annual carbon target for second year. Ministers insisted that Scotland's overall figures were still the best in Europe, with a near 30% cut in emissions against 1990 levels, but then admitted they had fresh doubts about hitting its tough goal of cutting carbon by 42% by 2020. link  

Tidal - Wave Power

January 2013: An analysis suggests that estuary barrages and tidal streams could provide more than 20% of demand for electricity in the U.K. Despite high costs, experts say tidal power is more reliable than wind. link

December 2015: Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary potential. Representatives from local government on both sides of the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary have signed an agreement to work together to promote, explore and enable the strategic and sustainable development of the region’s vast offshore renewable energy resources. Whilst the region has the potential to contribute as much as 14GW of low carbon energy to the UK’s energy mix, the estuary represents a complex and unique mix of valuable environmental and economic assets, activities and stakeholders. These must be protected and, where possible, enhanced as energy projects are introduced. link   (more on this project on Wave Power page.)

September 2013: Scotland gives green light to Europe’s largest tidal energy project. The largest tidal energy project in Europe can get under way after permission was granted for the first stage in the Pentland Firth. A demonstration project of up to six turbines will be built in the water between Orkney and the Scottish mainland following the decision by the Scottish government. When fully operational, the 86MW array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes, around 40% of homes in the Highlands. The site that could eventually yield up to 398 megawatts. link

Britain's nuclear industry

The UK has 15 reactors generating about 18% of its electricity and most of these are to be retired by 2023. In the late 1990s, nuclear power plants contributed around 25% of total annual electricity generation in the UK, but this has gradually declined as old plants have been shut down and ageing-related problems affect plant availability. link  (Update: January 2017: The UK has 15 reactors generating about 21% of its electricity but almost half of this capacity is to be retired by 2025.)

March 2017: Foreign companies flock to build nuclear plants in UK.  link

November 2009: Begun in 1956, nuclear energy reached its peak of 26% of the nation's electricity in 1997, and by 2023 only one of the current fleet of reactors will remain open. Nuclear currently generates 19% of Britain’s electricity at 16 reactors in 9 sites around the country. (sites map on this page  

February 2017: Blow to UK nuclear strategy as Toshiba considers pulling out. The French energy firm Engie, which is Toshiba’s partner in the NuGen consortium, has long been seen as wanting to get out of the project. However PM May told parliament earlier this week that the government was committed to new nuclear plants. link (April 2017: UK's Moorside nuclear project in turmoil as Toshiba's French partner backs out. link)

November 2016: Nuclear waste to remain at old UK plants.  More contaminated soil and rubble will remain at the sites of Britain’s old nuclear power plants rather than be moved off-site to a dedicated dump, under government-backed proposals.  link 

February 2013: Britain’s nuclear power dilemma. Having failed to realize support for new nuclear reactors over recent years, and despite promises that no subsidies would be given, the government is now hedging to backtrack on pledges to guarantee whatever it takes to develop increasing nuclear capacity. The government is launching a last-ditch attempt to sign up energy companies to build new nuclear power stations by proposing to sign contracts guaranteeing subsidies for up to 40 years. link  February 2013: The chances of building any new reactors in the UK are fading fast.  link  

Problems facing nuclear industry

March 2012: Flood risks at nuclear sites. As many as 12 of Britain's 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change. (Pictured at left - Sizewell nuclear power plant in Suffolk..)  Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Environment Department as being vulnerable now, with others in danger from rising sea levels and storms in future decades. Two of the sites for new nuclear stations are said to have a "high risk" of flooding now. Shutdown and running reactors at Dungeness in Kent are also classed as currently at high risk. link

September 2011: Nuclear clean-up will never be completed. Portions of the coast in northern Scotland will remain radioactive for 24,000 years as further attempts to clean up a leak have been abandoned. Tens of thousands of radioactive fuel fragments escaped from the Dounreay plant between 1963 and 1984, polluting local beaches, the coastline and the seabed. Fishing has been banned within a two-kilometre radius of the plant since 1997. link

Coal  /  Carbon capture

October 2017: UK accepts end of fossil fuel age. The government had to produce a climate plan under its own climate laws. The most important aspect of the new clean growth strategy is its unequivocal statement that tackling climate change and a prosperous economy are one and the same thing, and signals a new, if belated, beginning. It is the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel age.  link

September 2017: Britain moves to end the burning of coal. Britain is phasing out its coal-burning power plants, with the last one slated to be shuttered by 2025, if not sooner. It is a startling development for the nation that founded an industrial revolution powered by coal. In 1974, Britain got 80% of its electricity from burning coal. As recently as five years ago, the figure was 40%. By 2016 it was 9%. Coal only provides occasional back-up energy now, mostly on sunless and wind-free winter days, when demand is high and the supply from renewables low.  link

December 2012: The decline of the UK coal industry. At its peak, the British coal industry employed over a million men in 1908 (today 6,000), and was one of the most important industries in the UK. Transport, power and related industries were all heavily reliant on coal. Even in the mid 1960s, British Rail was still running on coal power (steam). In the 1970s, a strike by coal miners left Britain on the infamous three day week. Coal was Britain’s life blood, and without it, the economy could come to a standstill. The decline of the British coal industry started after the First World War, but was accelerated after the Second World War, and in particular, after the miners’ strike of 1984. link  
January 2017: Coal generation drops below 10%.  link

July 2016: Carbon capture cut will cost Britain 30bn. The government’s cancellation of a pioneering 1bn competition to capture and store carbon emissions may have pushed up the bill for meeting the UK’s climate targets by 30bn. The government decided the competition
was aiming to deliver CCS before it was necessary and cost-efficient to do so. link

April 2012: Carbon capture in UK under threat as study raises doubts. Serious doubts have been raised over the prospects for carbon capture and storage in the UK in the first comprehensive investigation into the technology, just two weeks after the government launched a 1 billion competition to build the first demonstration plant. The finding by the government-funded UK Energy Research Council endangers many of the government's assumptions on tackling climate change because ministers' long-term plans rely heavily on making the untried technique work on a massive scale.  link  (January 2017: Carbon capture scheme collapsed 'over government department disagreements' – link
(See also CCS page page)

Fracking in Britain

May 2013: Pros and cons of fracking in UK. Fracking got off to a shaky start in Britain, where the early attempts to produce gas near Blackpool appeared to cause minor earth tremors and the Government stepped in with a moratorium that has now been lifted. Direct application of the American experience isn’t easy because the population density in Europe is so much greater and we haven’t got the wide-open spaces. There is also likely to be even more opposition from campaigning groups. There is certainly gas out there, but we have little real knowledge about how much. The figures are always in dispute, not least because it’s in the interest of the exploration companies to claim huge finds, as that keeps the investment money flowing in. Even where that’s not the case, as with Cuadrilla, the major operator, chaired by Lord Browne, the mood has swung from caution to exhilar-ation and back again, and the academic assessments continue to vary considerably. Probably the best working assessment is that the UK could produce a significant amount of gas by 2030, but probably not enough to make it a game changer. UK environmental regulations are much tougher than those in America, so we can expect a more difficult growth. link
January 2015: David Cameron says the UK government is “going all out” for fracking link

August 2015: Fracking debate heats up. Weighing up whether fracking is bad depends on how you define “bad”. Fracking has given America gas prices that are far cheaper than in Europe but what most critics point to, of course, are the potential health and environmental impacts.  link

The UK protest organization in the UK is Frack-off.org and their site includes a map of all potential sites around the country here
June 2016: UK fracking firm plans to dump wastewater in the sea. Ineos, which holds 21 shale licences, many in the north-west, North Yorkshire and the east Midlands, has said it wants to become the biggest player in the UK’s nascent shale gas industry.  link

July 2
015: Another 16-month delay for Caudrilla in Lancashire announced - link
October 2016:
Fracking given go-ahead in Lancashire as council rejection overturned -  
link July 2017: Fracking inquiry launched after Blackpool tremors.  link

November 2011: Shale gas push would wreck UK's climate change targets. As in the U.S., shale gas obtained through fracking, is viewed as an energy solution. But burning it for fuel results in large-scale CO2 emissions, and in a report commissioned by the Cooperative Group, scientists warned that exploiting even a minor proportion of this gas would generate so much CO2 that the government's greenhouse gas emissions targets would be rendered unreachable. Exploiting even one-fifth of the Lancashire shale gas reserves alone would produce about 15% of the total CO2 that the UK can produce between now and 2050, if government targets are to be adhered to. Those targets state that CO2 emissions are to be cut by 80% by 2050. link
September 2013: Fracking would lower energy prices is baseless, says Lord Stern - link


July 2012 - analysis - power crisis likely to occur by 2018. As old nuclear and coal power stations are likely to be turned off after 2017, sometime in 2018 or shortly thereafter, the UK will experience a crisis. Electricity supply will not be enough to meet demand. So a government that simply wanted to produce a lot more electricity without producing a lot more greenhouse gas would likely favour onshore wind technology. In fact, onshore wind is the government's least favoured option. link

August 2013: UK homes use 25% less energy over 6 years.The average home energy usage in England and Wales fell by 24.7% between 2005 and 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Across England and Wales, average household energy consumption fell from 26.2 megawatt hours (mWh) in 2005 to 19.7mWh in 2011. link

June 2012: Ghost power consuming more energy than thought. A report commissioned by the government and the Energy Saving Trust to unearth the nation's energy habits, found that up to 16% of households' energy bills are spent on devices left on standby. It is estimated that domestic energy use accounts for more than a quarter of the nation's CO2 emissions. The modern home contained an average of 41 devices, compared with a dozen or so in the 1970s. link

Zero Carbon Britain: Academics in Britain have come together under the banner ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ to map out how fossil fuels could be eliminated within 20 years without resource to nuclear power. An updated report (June 2010) report that shows how Britain could eliminate emissions by 2030 link  November 2014: Recycling rates flatlined. Households appear to have given up trying to recycle more of their rubbish, official statistics suggest, which show that recycling rates in England have stalled at  44.2%. The European target of recycling 50% of waste by 2020 will probably be missed.  link
Recycling breakthrough. WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) says recycling in 2006 saved 18 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking five million cars off the road. In Leicestershire, Biffa (an integrated waste management business) is building a system for turning rubbish into electricity; anything organic in the city's rubbish - old pizza boxes, food scraps, dirty paper - gets pulverized in a deafening, dark and smelly hall.  link

We highly recommend the Guardian Environment web page: link 
Also recommended is the BBC’s Green Room:  link 

* Arctic Britain link:  
July 2015
 – Scientists have yet again warned that weakening ocean circulation in the North Atlantic could deliver a climate paradox, a colder Europe as a consequence of global warming.  link
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