The UK took another step closer to realising its objective to close its coal-fired power plants by 2025, as the nation’s renewable electricity capacity overtook that of fossil fuel generators for the first time.

Research by academics at Imperial College, on behalf of electrical power company Drax, showed that British renewable energy capacity has increased to 42 gigawatts (GW). In comparison, the capacity available from fossil fuel generators was 40.6GW.

Drilling down into the detail of the findings, wind provides the bulk of renewable energy capacity contributing 20GW. Solar came in second with 13GW worth of capacity, which includes almost a million rooftop solar power systems across the country. Meanwhile, biomass provides 3.2GW – but the report was keen to highlight that it plays an “important role in helping to tip the balance from fossil fuels to renewables” following the completion of two coal-to-biomass conversions during the third quarter.

Commenting on the findings in the report, RenewableUK’s Head of External Affairs Luke Clark stressed that transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is as much of an “economic imperative” as it is an environmental one, with clean technologies cheaper than gas or coal.

However, it is the environmental benefits that will appeal most to the UK government, which has a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by some 80% – based on 1990 levels – by 2050. It’s also contemplating when would be a realistic target to achieve net zero emissions.

Critics may well argue that the shift to renewable energy will mean job losses – but a new study suggests that jobs will be maintained and even boosted while coal-fired power plans are phased out.

Experts from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria examined the impact of cutting coal plant jobs, at the same time as developing new environmentally friendly technologies. They concluded that the 40,000 coal workers would be retained to enable the transition, while a further 22,000 new positions would be created in the forestry and transportation sectors by 2050.

Without a doubt, we are in an exciting period for the UK’s renewable energy sector. Zestec are adding to the UK’s renewable generating capacity every month, helping businesses of all shapes and sizes generate their own clean, green solar electricity using a fully funded power purchase agreement (PPA) model. See what we may be able to do for your business by emailing the team today at or give us a call on 01202 862760.