Scottish Power has become the first of the UK’s major energy firms to completely drop fossil fuels in favour of wind power
The company sold off its remaining gas and hydro stations to Drax for £702 million.
While customers will still get some electricity from non-green sources that Scottish Power has purchased from other operators, the company indicated it would now be freed up to invest more in UK renewables.
It plans to invest £5.2bn over the next four years to more than double its renewable capacity.
ScottishPower said the sale means it is the UK’s first integrated energy company to completely switch away from coal and gas generation to wind power. ScottishPower said the deal comes as the firm is investing £5.2billion in the next four years on renewable energy, enhanced grid networks and smart technology for customers.
“We have closed coal, sold gas and built enough wind to power 1.2 million homes.”
With a national deadline for phase-out set for 2025, Scottish Power has already closed all of its coal plants and has 2,700 MW of wind power projects operating or in the pipeline.
The move also marks a further move away from coal-burning stations for Drax, which has already converted four of its six stations to burn wood pellets instead.
However, the company has come under fire from campaigners who have criticised the levels of air pollution coming even from these sources. Drax responded by saying that pollution levels were “well within” legal limits.
In 2016, California’s renewable energy firm SolarReserve commissioned the world’s first 24/7 solar power plant in the Nevada Desert; powering 75,000 homes for 3 hours a day.
Drax said its continued use of relatively clean power sources such as gas and biomass would allow it to fill in any gaps left when solar and wind production is too low to completely supply the UK with electricity.
“I am excited by the opportunity to acquire this unique and complementary portfolio of flexible, low-carbon and renewable generation assets,” said Drax CEO Will Gardiner.
“It’s a critical time in the UK power sector. As the system transitions towards renewable technologies, the demand for flexible, secure energy sources is set to grow.”
GMB is calling on the UK and devolved governments as well as Ofgem, National Grid and the energy select committee to urgently evaluate the lessons that should be learned from the widespread power cuts in Australia arising from the changes from sourcing power from renewable sources instead of coal and oil fired stations.
Kate Blagojevic, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said the move by Scottish Power was part of a much larger trend.
“Big utilities across Europe have been shedding their dirty fossil fuel infrastructure because it makes economic and environmental sense," she said.
"This move by Scottish Power shows that the same maths adds up in the UK too. Climate science could not be clearer that renewables are the future for powering our world.
"We need the government to give renewable energy industry its full backing rather than propping up the fossil fuel and nuclear companies."
In 2009, consumption of renewable sources in the United States totaled 7.7 quadrillion Btu—or about 8