Nearly 20% of electricity in the UK now comes from renewables according to a report just released by the¬†Department for Energy and Climate Change. That’s a 1/3 increase from 15% in 2013. Part of that rise in renewables comes from a decision by the Drax Group to convert another coal burning generating facility to burning wood, which added to the country’s energy production from biomass sources.

Solar panel installation via FotoliaAt the same time, Bloomberg reports, total emissions in the UK fell by more than 8%, a bigger drop than anticipated, which may correspond to a corresponding decrease in total electricity consumption in the past year.

In other energy news, the principal grid operators in Britain and Norway have agreed to the construction of a new undersea transmission cable. At more than 400 miles in length, it will be the longest such cable in the world and will carry 1,400 megawatts of electricity to help Britain balance its power needs as more production from wind and solar facilities comes online in the future. Norway is blessed with an excess of electrical power due to its massive hydro-electric infrastructure.

Bloomberg notes that government incentives for new solar installations ended April 1. National elections scheduled for May 7 may have a significant impact on whether those incentives are renewed, depending on the composition of the new government as chosen by the voters. As in the United States, not all candidates fully support an aggressive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting efforts to generate more electricity from renewable sources.

Also at issue are national policies regarding fracking and shale gas production. Energy companies worldwide are pushing hard to relax limitations on fracking, claiming that natural gas is more environmentally friendly than burning coal. While most would agree with that position, it conveniently ignores the damage caused by obtaining the shale gas supplies in the first place, which is considerable.

But for now, the news that electricity usage fell sharply is good news for climate watchers. Using less means fewer renewable energy facilities will have to be built to meet the country’s total electrical power needs.

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