How has Britain's electricity become greener over the years?

From the world's first public electricity supply for street lights switching on in Surrey in 1881, to the latest zero carbon success stories of today, the facts and figures paint a compelling story about our country's journey from coal to clean.

Find out more in our videos and infographics below.

Discover how our electricity has changed

The generation mix through time

Take a trip through time to follow Britain's changing electricity generation mix between 1990 and 2021.

How our coal use has reduced

View the daily share of coal in the electricity mix since 2009

Timeline of key electricity system developments

Discover our electricity system's journey from 1881 to the present day and beyond.

Road to zero carbon statistics

Between 2013 and 2020, carbon intensity was reduced by
Between 2016 and 2020, wind generation increased by over
In 2020, the number of hours of coal-free electricity totalled
Britain’s wind record (enough to power all UK homes for over a day)
Britain’s solar record (enough to charge over a million electric vehicles)
We’re aiming to be able to operate Britain’s grid with zero carbon by
68 days
Britain’s longest coal-free run (between April 10 and June 16 2020)
Amount of zero carbon generation in 2020 (outstripping fossil fuel)

More key insights

The share of zero carbon power sources in Britain’s electricity mix has grown from less than 20% in 2010 (versus over 75% from fossil fuels) to almost 50% in 2020 (with carbon sources contributing only 35%). Zero carbon power outstripped fossil fuel for the first time across a year in 2019.

Britain’s carbon intensity – the measure of CO2 emissions per unit of electricity consumed – has reduced by 66% since 2013, with 2020 being the greenest year on record. Note the step change in 2016 (as the decline in coal generation takes effect) and an all-time low in May 2020 (the greenest month on record).

The amount of electricity generated from wind in Britain increased by over 150% between 2016 and 2020, with power output from offshore wind alone seeing a similar increase. Wind met a quarter of our electricity demand in 2020, helping last year become the greenest on record.