More than a dozen new “green” records were set this year for Britain’s power sector, with rising solar and wind generation, and coal increasingly pushed off the grid.
The shift to renewables, with record moments of output for solar, wind and hydropower, meant new low levels of carbon pollution from electricity were seen in 2018.
And the cost of new offshore wind tumbled in the latest Government auctions for support for the technology.
This year is being hailed by environmental campaigners as the “greenest year ever”, with 2018 expected to see an even cleaner power sector.
Gareth Redmond-King, from conservation charity WWF, said: “2017 has been an amazing year for renewable electricity in Britain,we have never been cleaner or greener, and we are on course for an even better year in 2018.
“Climate change is wreaking havoc on our nature and wildlife, but we are at last facing up to the challenge, turning our backs on polluting fossil fuels and embracing a new clean future.”
But with the UK not yet on track to meet legal targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years, more needed to be done to support renewable energy, make heating buildings cleaner and drive the switch to electric vehicles, WWF urged.
2017 saw 13 new records:
:: First 24-hour period without coal generation since the Industrial Revolution – April 21.
:: Longest period without coal generation (40 hours 35 minutes) – October 28-29.
:: Greenest summer ever, with almost 52% of electricity generation from low carbon sources – June 21 to September 22.
:: The lowest amount of carbon produced by electricity production at any one moment (73 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour) – October 2.
:: The largest amount of electricity produced from renewable sources at any one moment (19.2 gigawatts) – March 21.
:: First time that wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined – June 7.
:: Most electricity production from solar power at any one moment (8.9 gigawatts), a quarter of Britain’s electricity supply – May 26.
:: Highest percentage of solar produced relative to national demand (26.8%) – July 2.
:: Most wind power produced in a day – December 7.
:: Most offshore wind generation at any one moment (4.3 gigawatts) – October 1.
:: Most electricity production from all wind generation at any one moment (12.4 gigawatts) – December 6.
:: Most electricity production from hydropower at any one moment (1.4 gigawatts) – February 27.
:: Record low strike price – the guaranteed price that will be paid for power generated by low carbon technology – at the second auction for subsidies of £57.50 per megawatt hour – September 11.
Duncan Burt, from National Grid which verified the records, said it had been an exciting year managing “many network firsts”.
“2017 marked a new era of grid operation. We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system which poses an exciting challenge for us in ensuring the supply and demand is matched second by second.”
And he added: “We planned for these changes to the energy landscape, and continue to do so as the energy system evolves.
“We have worked with the industry to ensure we have the right tools and services in place to continue operating the grid safely and reliably.
“I’m sure there will be more records broken in 2018 and we’re ready and excited to play our part.”