Government figures were released last week which show that the amount of electricity being produced from renewable sources is continuing to soar. The annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics revealed that the amount of electricity generated from renewables increased by 19% in 2012 compared to the previous year. Indeed in 2012 renewable sources provided 11.3% of the total electricity generated in the UK in 2012.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) described the statistical data as “very encouraging” and emphasised that the UK was well on track to meet the agreed EU target of 15% of energy to be generated from renewables by 2015.The majority of the increase in renewable generation came from the wind industry: 46% more energy was generated from offshore wind in 2012 than in 2011 and 17% more from onshore wind. The huge leap in offshore wind generation can be attributed to falling development costs and long planned developments being connected to the grid. The more mature onshore sector still saw impressive growth as more and more people have sought to develop land; whether for large scale wind farms or small and medium turbine developments. That the UK’s wind industry has contributed so much to these impressive and headline making figures underlines the importance of the industry to the country and the scale of the opportunity that Europe’s largest wind resource has presented.
The data also revealed that the UK’s total energy consumption increased by 1.7% in 2012. While this information may initially raise questions about the energy efficiency programmes being pursued in the UK: a closer reading reveals that these programmes are beginning to bear fruit. The increase in energy consumption has been attributed to the cold weather experienced in 2012. When this is factored into the figures it is revealed that energy consumption was down 0.7% compared to 2011.
The publication of that data was greeted enthusiastically by the UK’s renewables industry. Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive at industry trade body RenewableUK released the following statement:
“These figures confirm the recent trends we have seen that show renewables, and especially wind, playing an ever-increasing role in our electricity generation. They come at the end of a busy period for wind, which has seen the largest offshore wind farm in the world opened at London Array, as well as number of major onshore sites going live. We have made some remarkable progress over recent years, and this is another shot in the arm for the renewables sector. With wind generating around half of electricity from renewables we are leading the charge in the race to decarbonise our electricity market.
“These figures also show that as a country we are becoming increasingly dependent on expensive imported fossil fuels, with a rise to over 40% in the amount we depend on fossil fuels brought in from abroad. This yet again shows the need to continue to build on the success we have seen in renewables as a way of helping us achieve energy independence.”
In other industry news the first section of Scottish and Southern Energy’s (SSE) new power line, which will run from Beauly in Invernesshire to Denny in Stirlingshire, has been energised. The long-planned line is intended to link up renewable developments in the north of the country with energy-demand centres in the central belt. This first section runs from Beauly to Fort Augustus. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2015 and will have capacity for 1.2 Gigawatts of renewable energy.
SSE’s Managing Director of Networks, Mark Mathieson, stated:
“This is a proud moment for SSE. Our progress is testament to the teamwork which identified the need for the line, guided it through planning and has now delivered the first section of the UK’s longest transmission line through some of its most challenging terrain.
“Over the past two years, the project has generated around £86 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Scottish economy and created around 1,500 jobs. We hope to replicate the positive benefits from this project with the other grid upgrades that SHE [Scottish Hydro Electric] Transmission is progressing as part of a multi billion pound investment programme which will help increase security of supply, decarbonise electricity supplies and promote sustainable economic growth.”
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, greeted the news with much enthusiasm:
“This newly upgraded line will help support many renewable energy projects in the north of Scotland, providing thousands of homes and businesses across the country with clean renewable electricity.
“Upgrading grid infrastructure is one of our biggest challenges in reaching the 2020 target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables and its major investment projects like the Beauly-Denny transmission line which will help us achieve this.”
These two pieces of news demonstrate the present and future success of the UK’s renewable industry. Developers, such as ourselves at Intelligent Land Invesments (Renewable Energy), are already delivering renewable energy in large quantities to UK energy consumers, counteracting rising gas prices and increasing the country’s energy security, but there is more to be achieved. Investment and projects such as the Beauly-Denny line and the Kintyre-Hunterston line (discussed in last week’s blog) will allow more renewable energy developments to progress and help ensure that UK and Scottish renewable generation targets are met. Such ambitions require progress to be made in a variety of fields; progress which is being made.