How the National Grid cleaned up its act and why the public followed suit  

With the last coal-fired power station in the UK set to be closed later this year, Jordan Brompton, co-founder and CMO of myenergi, explores the UK’s remarkable progress towards decarbonising the national grid and explains the role that homeowners are playing in accelerating the transition to net zero. 

In an exclusive interview, Jordan Brompton, co-founder and CMO of myenergi, delves into the UK’s transition towards a greener energy future.

At the turn of the millennium, power generated from coal accounted for nearly a third of the UK’s energy mix, peaking just shy of 40% in 2012. Fast forward more than two decades, however, and it’s a very different story. 

Low-carbon sources made up 56% of our total electricity generation in 2023, of which 43% was from renewables (primarily wind at around 30%, but also from solar, bioenergy, and hydroelectric), and 13% from nuclear. Natural gas made up the majority of our fossil fuel use, at 31%, with coal dropping to a shadow of its former self at just 1%. This number is set to reach zero by the end of the year, with the UK’s last coal-fired plant ending operations by 1 October.  

This record decrease in fossil fuel use means the UK is now experiencing its lowest-ever carbon electricity mix. Grid carbon intensity fell to a new low of 162gCO2/kWh last year, which equates to an 18% reduction compared to the previous 12 months.

Eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels

But this is just the start. As part of the UK’s continued efforts to decarbonise, the government has pledged a further £960 million of investment in renewable and low-carbon generation, grid networks, and supporting infrastructure like hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS)4

While supporting the delivery of up to 50GW of offshore wind power by 2030, this scheme also places a renewed focus on nuclear energy, with the aim to deliver up to 24GW of new nuclear by 2050. Despite its limitations, scaling up nuclear is seen by many as the pragmatic approach to decarbonisation and as an essential energy source for completely eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels. 

How consumers are following suit 

Small-scale renewable energy generation technologies empower homeowners to take control of their consumption. By harnessing the power of the sun, wind, or even heat from the ground and air, consumers can significantly reduce their reliance on grid-supplied electricity and fossil fuels. 

By investing in renewable energy, homeowners can reduce their energy bills over the long term and become less dependent on fluctuating energy prices. Surplus energy can even be exported back to the grid, providing an additional source of income and contributing to the grid’s overall capacity. 

According to research from the Microgeneration Scheme (MSC), 2023 was a record-breaking year for domestic renewable energy and heating installations across the UK. In total, more than 225,500 systems were fitted, including 189,000 solar PV arrays, small-scale wind, hydro, heat pumps, and home energy storage5

This uptake is a testament to just how accessible home renewables have become. The technology is advancing, prices are falling, and public sentiment towards microgeneration is steadily moving away from it being seen as just a gimmick, and towards being an essential part of the home energy ecosystem. 

It’s also positive news that energy suppliers are encouraging the transition to renewable generation. A number of companies offer tariffs that support off-peak energy use and help users take advantage of optimum feed-in rates. For those without any home generation installed, there is a huge variety of 100% renewable energy tariffs available. 

Can we reach net zero energy by 2050? 

If we’re to hit national decarbonisation targets and reach net zero by 2050, it will take a two-pronged strategy: a top-down approach coming from the government and heavy industries (which incentivise low-carbon energy at an industrial scale), alongside a bottom-up approach whereby consumers literally take power into their own hands. 

It’s great to see the progress we’ve made in cleaning up the grid, and even more impressive to see how consumers have so quickly followed suit. These gargantuan efforts have seen coal almost eliminated from our energy mix, and record lows of natural gas.  

However, the job’s certainly not done yet. In fact, we’re only really scratching the surface of what’s possible. We need to further accelerate renewable energy adoption by giving consumers more of a reason to make the change and incentivising ways to do so. Education in this space is critical, as is accelerating the availability of cost-effective solutions that allow consumers to adopt renewable energy without breaking the bank. 

Incentivising energy efficiency

At myenergi, we’re committed to leading the charge with our eco-smart products. Our zappi EV charger, for example, offer users the ability to charge their electric vehicles with 100% self-generated renewable energy, while our eddi power diverter diverts renewable energy to domestic heating systems. Our modular home energy storage system, libbi, on the other hand, makes intelligent decisions about when it provides and stores electricity based on how much energy is being used, how much is generated from renewables and the customer’s electricity tariff. 

Eco-smart home generation technologies like these further help to incentivise consumers to increase energy efficiency in the home and switch to zero-carbon energy. With great strides made in the green transition since the start of the millennium, the future is only looking brighter—if we can keep up the momentum, reaching a zero-carbon energy mix by 2050 can become a reality. 

For more information about myenergi, or the company’s range of eco-smart solutions, visit www.myenergi.com.