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Solar energy output overtakes electricity generated by coal

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Analysis of new data reveals that the UK’s solar panels generated more electricity than coal over the course of the past six months.

In a major boon for the renewable energy sector, the statistics show that solar technology generated 7,000 gigawatt hours of electricity between April and September this year.

This compared with the 6,300 produced by coal, at one time the country’s most widely used fossil fuel, over the same period.

Solar capacity more than doubled last year, although some campaigners said the sector has been held back by cuts in support by the Government.

Nonetheless, May this year was the first month ever that solar technology generated more electricity than coal.

James Court, the Renewable Energy Association’s head of policy, said: “Solar overtaking coal this summer would have been largely unthinkable five years ago.

“This new data shows its popularity amongst homeowners and businesses and its falling costs. Now that we have a significant global and domestic industry, solar is one of the cheapest forms of power.

“Government policy stability is critical, however. Solar PV deployment in August 2016 was one third of what it was in August 2015 due to the sudden and severe changes to policy in the past year.”

Juliet Davenport, chief executive of renewable energy supplier Good Energy, added: “Renewable energy has been an unbelievable success story in the UK and around the globe.

“When I started my company 15 years ago, you could fit the whole UK renewable energy industry into a small room, and now nearly 25 per cent of the UK’s power comes from renewables.”