As the sun shone on millions of solar panels and unseasonable gusts turned thousands of turbine blades last Sunday something remarkable happened to Britain’s power grid.
For a brief period a record 70% of the electricity for the UK’s homes and businesses was low-carbon – as nuclear – solar and wind crowded out coal and even gas power stations.
That afternoon was a glimpse into the future – of how energy provision will look in 13 years’ time because of binding carbon targets.
On what one grid manager called ‘stunning Sunday’ the carbon intensity of producing power – a key measure of progress towards climate goals – dropped below the ‘magic number’ of 100g of CO2 per kilowatt hour for the first time.
That’s the level that must be the norm by 2030 – according to the government’s climate advisers.
Yet last Sunday was just one of a run of striking records for renewable power in Britain that pose profound questions for conventional generators and the companies which manage power grids.