The UK’s greenest year

2017 has been predicted to be the greenest ever for the UK with thirteen new record set through the course of the last twelve months. These include the first full day without the need of coal power since the Industrial Revolution, the most electricity produced from solar power at any one moment, and the most wind power produced in a day. Over the course of the year Britain ranked fourth cleanest for energy generation in Europe and seventh in the world.

In addition public support for renewable energy in the UK reached an all-time high in 2017 with WWF predicting it will be the greenest year ever. Gareth Redmond-King, head of energy and climate at WWF said: “We have never been cleaner or greener – and we are on course for an even better year in 2018. This is the success of supporting renewables in electricity.

“The Government has subsidised onshore wind, offshore wind, solar, hydro, the lot, and that has led to the cost of it falling, we have built more and now a third of our electricity comes from renewables.”

Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid said: “It’s been an exciting year managing the many ‘network firsts.’

“We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system which poses an exciting challenge for us in ensuring the supply and demand is matched second by second.

“As this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important. We have an expert team of forecasters who monitor a range of data, to forecast just how much electricity will be needed over a set period.”

Mr. Redmond-King added “Climate change is wreaking havoc on our nature and wildlife, but we are at last facing up to the challenge, turning our backs on polluting fossil fuels and embracing a new, clean future.”

He did warn however that positive Government action was required in order to continue with the drive towards clean green energy adding: “This is a success in terms of power; we haven’t done so well in relation to cutting emissions in our homes and vehicles. That’s where we need more concerted action. It’s a big job, but it has huge impacts, and we really need to see the detail of how the Government is going to commit to do that.”

The UK Government published its clean energy strategy in October last year setting out fifty policies and processes designed to improve energy efficiency and clean power generation. Critics however claim it does not go far enough to meet emission reduction targets especially the target of 2040 for end of sale of petrol and diesel vehicles.

On a more micro level the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) in Scotland have stated that one way of managing our emissions and meeting our goals is to significantly increase the amount of organic waste and energy crops we recycle into biogas for renewable heat and power, low carbon transport fuel and bio-fertilisers.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is currently delivering 45MW of power and 11,000m3/hr of heat in Scotland, with AD plants across the UK now having enough capacity to power more than a million homes however ABDA believe more can be done.

Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the ADBA, said: “The Scottish Government has set itself ambitious but necessary targets for generating renewable energy in its new Energy Strategy and renewable heat and electricity produced through AD can make an important contribution to these goals, as well as reducing emissions from landfill, creating rural jobs, and helping to restore degraded soils.”

The Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy sets a new target for at least 50% of all Scotland’s heat, transport, and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030.

The advances we have made in clean energy generation have all led to the success 2017 and continuing breaking records is great to see, it means we are doing a lot right. More is required however both in terms of reaching our emission reduction targets and in creating 100% clean energy generation.

After a period of inactivity the UK Government is now beginning to move towards more green policies and initiatives which will help greatly in helping us achieve our aims. We hope that this shift continues and more new developments and technologies are brought on-line in the near future.

2017 was a great year but let’s not make it the final year we break clean energy records.