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Fall in greenhouse gas emissions

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Provisional figures released last week by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showed a 3.4 per cent fall in greenhouse gas emissions last year, with a reading of below 500 million tonnes for the first time.

The decrease in emissions was mainly because of the withdrawal of coal-fired power stations from the market and a rapid rollout of renewable energy, leading to a 13 per cent fall in carbon emissions across the energy supply sector.

In fact, coal is now being burnt at its lowest level in 150 years and the closure later this year of a further three plants will cut at least another 7GW of coal-fired power from the system, which should lead to a further fall in emissions.

Meanwhile, renewables made up a record 24.7 per cent of electricity generation in 2015, up 5.6 per cent on 2014 levels. Wind generation increased 26 per cent compared to 2014, delivering enough clean electricity to power almost 10 million British homes, while bioenergy grew by 28 per cent and solar output increased by a staggering 86 per cent.

It is estimated that if solar panels were installed on every roof in the UK, we would be 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy but that is unlikely, given the current political climate. In fact, figures from the DECC for February show that only 11MW of new solar capacity was installed during the month, which is a 92 per cent drop in installations year-on-year.

The drop in installations is particularly marked in PV systems with more than 4kw of capacity, with 3,125 systems fitted in February 2016 compared to 9,980 during the same period last year. This indicates that the cuts to solar PV subsidies are now beginning to bite.