Clean Energy Makes Up Record Share of UK Power with Coal-to-Biomass Conversions

U.K. electricity from low-carbon sources accounted for almost a quarter of the country’s generation in the fourth quarter as Drax Group Plc converted a second coal-power plant to burn wood.

Renewable electricity output climbed to a record 22 percent in the period from 17.9 percent a year earlier, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said Thursday in a report. That reflects an increase of as much as 51 percent in bioenergy production after Drax completed its plant conversion.

Utility Drax, the owner of Britain’s largest coal-fired power station, is overhauling units at the site in northern England to burn wood pellets and thus reduce its requirement for carbon-emission permits. The U.K. government intends to get at least 30 percent of power from clean sources by the end of the decade, up from 15 percent in 2013.

Drax brought its second converted generator fully online in the fourth quarter and expects to switch a third this year and next. It’s also considering transforming a fourth at the six- unit complex.

Over the full year, clean electricity rose by a fifth, taking it to more than 38 percent of the U.K. total, according to the report. Bio-energy expanded by 24 percent and wind power by 11 percent.

Copyright 2015 Bloomberg

Lead image: William Perugini. Credit: Shutterstock.

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