Last updated: Febraury 14th 2024

Renewable energy’s contribution to the UK energy mix is on the rise. But what percentage of the mix currently comes from renewables and how much has this changed in the last decade?

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We use the latest data from the National Grid to answer these questions and explore the key milestones set by the UK government to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Key Takeaways

  • Percentage of the UKs energy from renewables: 39.6%

  • Percentage from renewables 10 years ago (2014): 10.7%

  • Percentage of the UKs energy from fossil fuels: 32.2%
  • Percentage from fossil fuels 10 years ago (2014): 58.1%
  • UK target: decarbonise the energy system by 2035

  • Wind energy target: 50GW capacity by 2030 (currently 11GW)

  • Solar energy target: 70GW capacity by 2035 (currently 14GW)

What percentage of UK energy is renewable?

39.5% of the UK energy mix was from renewables in the 12 months to January 2024. Wind 29.0%, biomass 4.9%, solar 4.5% and hydro 1.2%. 

All Renewables

Wind

Biomass

Solar

Hydro

39.6%

28.9%

5.1%

4.5%

1.2%

*February 2024 - 12 month moving average, Source: Electricity System Operator - National Grid  

What percentage of UK energy is from fossil fuels?

In the 12 months to February 2024, 32.5% of the UK energy mix was from fossil fuels. Gas 31.6% and coal 0.9%.

All Fossil Fuels

Gas

Coal

32.5%

31.6%

0.9%

*February 2024 - 12 month moving average, Source: Electricity System Operator - National Grid  

How has the percentage of renewable energy changed over time?

The percentage of the UKs energy from renewables has grown significantly over the last 10 years from 10.7% in 2014 to 39.5% in 2023.

 

 

% of UK energy mix

Renewables

Fossil Fuels

2014

10.758.1

2015

14.250.8

2016

14.549.9

2017

20.344.7

2018

27.642.4

2019

31.540.1

2020

37.535.1

2021

33.738.6

2022

37.539.7

2023

39.532.2

*Source: Electricity System Operator - National Grid

How has the percentage of fossil fuels changed over time?

Over the last 10 years the percentage of the UKs energy from fossil fuels has reduced from 58.1% in 2014 to 32.2% in 2023.

What are the UK climate change targets?

In the Climate Change Act 2008 the UK is committed by law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.  To help meet this target the UK government has set a target to decarbonise the electricity system by 2035. 

In their March 2023 report, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) said that a decarbonised power grid is achievable but not at the current pace of change. For Renewables to play their part there’s the need for a big increase in capacity - particularly wind and solar, backed up by battery storage.

What changes in renewable energy are needed to decarbonise the UK energy system? 

In the British Energy Security Strategy paper published in April 2022, the government touched upon the key targets for decarbonising the electricity system by 2035. It plans to increase wind energy capacity from 11GW to 50GW by 2030 and solar energy capacity from 14GW to 70GW by 2035.

Conclusion

We’ve learned about the strides the UK is making in renewable energy. Over the last decade, the UK has seen significant  growth in renewable energy, whilst reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. Progress is being made but the Climate Change Committee have stated the need for a further, big increase in renewable energy capacity if the 2035 target to decarbonise the electricity system is to be met.