UK renewable energy at record high

New figures published last week by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change in it’s ‘Energy Trends‘ document have revealed that the amount of electricity being produced from the country’s renewable energy infrastructure has increased dramatically over the course of 2014.

The figures revealed that in 2013 a record 14.8% of the UK’s overall electricity production came from renewable sources. In total 52.8 terrawatt hours of electricity was produced from renewable sources in 2013.  In the same period the UK’s renewable energy capacity increased by a quarter to 19.4 Gigawatts. These headline grabbing figures underline the great strides which the UK’s renewable energy industry made in 2013 and the promise of further great leaps forward in the future.

Indeed the further progress which renewable energy is making was underlined by the fact that from November 2013 to January 2014 renewables met approximately 18% of the UK’s electricity demand. Given the high wind speeds experienced in the country over this period one would be correct in assuming that this increase of around 3% of electricity demand met by renewables was powered by wind energy.

The record increase in renewable energy generation capacity was largely driven by the UK’s wind energy industry. Huge progress was made by both the onshore and offshore sectors. In 2013 onshore wind produced 16.5 terrawatt hours of electricity. This is an increase of over 36% compared to generation figures for 2012. Offshore wind generation increased by almost 46% to 10.9 terrawatt hours. An impressive and understandable increase given the relative maturity of the onshore sector.

Industry trade-body RenewableUK’s Director of External Affairs Jennifer Webber made the following comment shortly after the publication of the figures:

“At a time when we needed it most, wind delivered. Onshore wind generation was up 64% compared to the previous year, and wind as a whole delivered over 10% of the UK’s total power needs across the quarter, proving it’s a force to be reckoned with.

Wind energy’s generation was the equivalent of power for 7.86 million homes for the full quarter.

By developing our wind resource we ease our reliance on costly imported foreign fuels and reduce the amount of polluting COin our atmosphere.

In addition by using our natural resources we’re creating thousands of jobs, like the ones Siemens announced just this week.

The UK has a choice – stay in hock to foreign powers for our energy or invest in secure, clean renewables and build tens of thousands of jobs for British workers”.

It should be noted that it was not just wind energy that took great strides in 2013. For example solar energy produced 2 terrawatt hours of electricity; an increase of almost 70%  of 2012’s total. Bioenergy generation also saw an increase of 22.8% demonstrating the growth experienced in all renewable energy sectors in the UK.

The renewable energy industry’s success in Scotland or rather Scotland’s success with renewable energy was particularly notable. Scotland has managed to begin to harness the power of it’s renewable resources and is outpacing the rest of the UK in moving to a low carbon energy sector. Around 32% of the UK’s renewable energy generation in 2013 was carried out in Scotland. 46% of Scotland’s total electricity consumption was met by renewable sources. This puts the country well on track to meet the 2020 target of 100% renewable energy and leaves the interim 2015 target of 50% renewable energy as something of a formality. We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are delighted to have been able to contribute to such success. The revealing of such Scottish success was met enthusiastically by government and industry. Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing released the following statement:

“These figures show that renewable electricity in Scotland is going from strength to strength, showing that 2013 was a record year for renewable generation in Scotland. Scottish renewable generation made up approximately 32 per cent of total UK renewable generation in 2013 – showing that Scotland has some of the best natural resources.

“The Scottish Government’s target is to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s gross annual electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020, as part of a wider, balanced, energy mix. These figures show that renewable generation in Scotland was at a record high last year, meeting around 46 per cent of our electricity demand, and helping keep the lights on across these islands at a time when Ofgem are warning of the ever tightening gap between peak electricity demand and electricity supply.

“Investment in Scottish renewable energy continues to grow. Between January 2010 and April 2013, the industry announced £13.1 billion of investment and over 9,000 associated jobs. Scotland leads the world in the development of marine energy technologies. There are more different wave and tidal power devices being developed and tested in Scotland than there are in any other country in the world.

“Independence will allow Scotland to pursue the opportunity to maximise the benefits from our energy wealth, including our potential for further developments in renewable energy. We can build on our existing success in this area and work to encourage the development of a wide range of renewable technologies, which will help enhance a reliable and secure energy supply and help Scotland meet its ambitious climate change targets.

Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said:

“Even today, many people do not realise the massive contribution renewables make to powering our homes and businesses and reducing our carbon emissions.

“These UK Government figures show that, alongside nuclear, renewables are the biggest provider of electricity in the country, with 2013 our best-ever year.

“The report goes to show what can be achieved when industry and government work together towards our ambitious 2020 renewable energy targets.

“However, at a time of some change and uncertainty, government and industry must remain focused on these shared goals if the sector is to continue to provide increasing economic, environmental and social benefits to Scotland.”

In other news last week,  a report published by consultancy group Pöyry and Cambridge Econometrics has revealed the impact that wind energy could have upon the Irish economy.  If 5.4GW of new wind capacity is installed by 2030 then around €8.3 billion of new investment would be delivered to the Irish economy.

The report, entitled ‘Value of Wind Energy to Ireland’ goes on to reveal that the net annual GDP impact of new wind capacity will be between €350m and €490m a year to 2020. This figure would then be expected to increase to between €646m and €769m a year during the 2021 to 2030 period. Such a drive for wind energy could also create over 20,000 jobs in the country by 2030. Additionally it could eliminate the need for spending around €700 million a year on fossil fuel imports. The publication comes at a time in which Ireland’s dependence upon fossil fuel imports is coming under the spotlight due to geo-political uncertainty in Eastern-Europe. The success which has been found in the UK can only increase the desire for an Irish drive for wind.

The release of the DECC report has highlighted what successful 2013 the UK’s renewable energy experienced. ILI (RE) is proud to have done it’s part but attention must now turn to the future and the successes of 2014.

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