Less is distinctly more

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There has been much rejoicing at the trend away from fossil fuel generated electricity over the past decade.

Even the gloom mongers, who noted that in 2019 the overall amount of UK renewable energy generated didn’t increase, shouldn’t have missed that, even so, its proportion of the overall market nonetheless increased by 3%. Because total electricity generation fell by another 9-terawatt hours (TWh), ensuring a 6% drop in fossil fuel generation. 

This happened because there was another remarkable shift in Britain’s electrical system throughout the 2010s – which somehow seemed to escape the headline writers’ attention. Overall, the total amount of electricity consumed fell by a massive 15% between 2010 and 2019, with the economy using 58 TWh less electricity in 2019 than it did in 2010. 

That is enough electricity to power half of Britain’s cars and taxis, even if they were all electric vehicles. Which means acknowledging the sagacity of National Grid’s much-mocked forecasts regarding how minimally an all-electric vehicle fleet need impact upon overall consumption numbers. 

Or to put it another way, the 15% reductions achieved have been higher than the potential maximum output of the two new nuclear power stations so vigorously promoted by the Conservative Government over the same period, Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C. 

Mind you, back in 2010 the official forecast was that, by 2020 we would be consuming almost 30% more electricity than we actually are. No wonder nobody is much bothered just how far behind schedule both of these nuclear power plants now are.