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.

New UK Wind Energy Records Set

Last week it was announced by industry trade body RenewableUK that the month of December 2013 had seen several wind power records being broken. The announcement followed the publication of electricity generation statistics for December by the National Grid. Despite the high-winds experienced in the UK over the course of December it should be noted that the setting of new records does not simply represent a particularly blustery month but rather the continuation of an upwards trend.

The first record which was broken was the amount of wind power generated in a single month. December saw 2,481,080 MWh (Megawatt hours) of electricity being generated from wind power. This level of generation is enough to power 5.7 million British homes at a time of year which traditionally sees an increase in power usage and demand. The previous record was set in October 2013 when 1,956,437 MWh of electricity was generated from the wind. Crucially, however, this increase in generation led to an increase in the use of wind power by the UK. In December 2013 10% of the UK’s total power demand was sourced from wind power. In comparison, October 2013 saw 8% of the UK’s total energy demand being sourced from wind.

Records were also broken for the amount of electricity generated from wind power over the course of a single week and a single day. The week beginning Monday the 16th of December saw 783,886 MWh of electricity being produced from wind power. This level of power generation represented 13% of the weeks total electricity demand. The 21st of December was the day on which the single day generation record was broken. 132,812 MWh of electricty was generated from wind power representing a notable 17% of the days total electricity demand. The single day generation record had set as recently as the 29th of November. The regularity with which new records are being set reveals the progress that the UK’s wind industry is making in increasing capacity and reducing the country’s dependence upon fossil fuel imports. Indeed around 500 Megawatts of new wind capacity was installed and connected into the National Grid between June and November 2013.

Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK made the following statement whilst announcing the new records:

“This is a towering achievement for the British wind energy industry. It provides cast-iron proof that the direction of travel away from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable sources is unstoppable.

“In December, we generated more electricity from wind for British homes and businesses than during any other month on record – and we also hit weekly and daily highs.

“This gives us a great sense of confidence for the year ahead, when we will continue to increase the amount of clean power we generate from wind, onshore and offshore.

“As we do so, we are lessening our dependence on excruciatingly expensive imports of fossil fuels which have driven people’s fuel bills up. British wind energy is providing a better alternative – a stable, secure, cost-effective supply of home-grown power”.

Of course it should be remembered that the figures released by the National Grid do not represent the full amount of wind energy being generated in the UK. There are a large amount of wind turbines in the UK, particularly within the small to medium scale (the scale at which we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) specialise in) which do not feed power into the National Grid. Such turbines will be supplying power locally or on-site. The owners of such developments are not required to supply real time output data to the National Grid and as such will not have been included in their figures.

It should be noted that UK wind power breaking such records as this is set to become a regular occurrence in the near future as more turbines are consented, constructed and begin to supply power into the National Grid. We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are looking forward to playing our part in this process as more of our developments are completed in the very near future.

In other news, figures released by Spain’s national grid operator have revealed that wind power has become the country’s dominant electricty source in 2013. Red Electrica de Espana (REE) published a report which revealed that for the very first time wind power contributed more to meeting electricty demand within the country than any other source. Over the course of 2013 wind met 21.1% of Spanish electricity demand. This was enough to produce more than Spain’s fleet of nuclear plants which met 21%. In total 53,926 GWh (Gigawatt hours) of electricity was produced from wind power in 2013. This represents an increase of 12% over 2012.

It should be noted that other forms of renewable energy also saw an increase in their output. Hydropower generation soared to 32,205 GWh; a 16% increase on the historic average helped by high levels of rainfall. Solar energy also contributed more due an increase in capacity. In 2013 173 MW of  new wind power capacity was introduced into the grid, 140 MW of solar PV and 300 MW of solar thermal capacity were also added to the system. These increases mean that renewable technologies now account for 49.1% of installed Spanish capacity.

The success of the Spanish embrace of renewable power can also be seen in the reduced output of more traditional forms of electricity generation. Output from traditional gas fired power plants dropped a dramatic 34.2%. Output from coal fired plants dropped 27.3% and even nuclear output dropped  by 8.3%. These reductions combined with a 2.1% drop in total power demand and increased use of renewable power has meant that the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the Spanish power sector are estimated to have dropped an incredible 23.1% last year to 61.4 million tonnes. These figures demonstrate that an electricity supply system based upon renewables not only works for end users but also serves to increase energy security and reduce carbon emissions.

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are delighted to have played a part in setting new wind generation records. We also look forward to helping set new records with our already installed turbines and also those of our developments which will have completed construction in the near future.

UK renewable generation soars

Last week the Department of Energy and Climate Change published the latest statistics on renewable energy generation in England, Scotland and Wales.

The statistics are available here. They demonstrate dramatic growth in renewable energy generation across all renewable generation technologies and regions of the UK.

These statistics are published quarterly and the latest figures account for the second quarter of 2013. 12.8 TWh (terawatt hours) of renewable electricity was generated over the three month period. As such renewable energy generation was responsible for 15.5% of the total electricity generation in the UK in this time period. This represents a dramstic increase from the same period of 2012 in which renewables contributed 9.7% of total electricity generation. This is proof positive of the dramatic strides that the renewable energy industry is taking in the UK.

The statistical analysis broke the increased renewable generation capacity by technology type. This revealed that wind has seen the most dramatic growth of any form of renewable generation technology with an increase in generation of 62% compared to the same quarter in 2012. Further reading also reveals that onshore wind generation increased by 70%  between the two quarters. This is the biggest increase in generation for any technology type and demonstrates not only the strides being taken by the onshore wind industry but also the suitability of the UK itself for further onshore wind generation.

Additionally, solar, wave and tidal generation saw an increase of 22% whilst hydro power saw a 29% increase in generation. It should perhaps be noted that in the case of hydro power this leap may represent a difference in weather between the two years as much as it does an increase in capacity.

DECC’s analysis also broke down the number of renewable generation sites in England, Scotland,  Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. At the end of the second quarter of 2013 England had 3,752 non-PV (photovoltaic i.e non-solar sites),Scotland had 2,648 non-PV sites, Wales had 493 non-PV sites and Northern Ireland had 203 non-PV sites. The difference between the countries was far more marked in the figures for Photovoltaic sites: England had 311,192, Scotland had 24,360, Wales had 27,173 and Northern Ireland 531. In terms of solar sites much of the difference can be explained by the more clement climate to be found in England, particularly in the South, making solar panels more  attractive to developers and consumers.

The figures also reveal that as of the end of the second quarter of 2013 England had 29% more renewable electrcity capacity than Scotland. However DECC’s own analysis attributes this to the fact that the vast majority (88%) of the UK’s total biomass capacity is to be found in England. This concentration of biomass capacity can be explained by the conversion of the Tilbury B to dedicated biomass in 2011.

The total renewable energy capacity of the United Kingdom as of the start of June 2013 stood at 19.5GW. This represents an increase of 38% compared to June 2012 indicating that the growth of the renewable energy industry  continues apace. Furthermore 48% of the total amount of renewable energy generated in the second quarter of 2013 came from wind power. An indication that the wind industry and companies such as ourselves are working hard to ensure that the UK meets its renewable energy targets.

The Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK, Maf Smith welcomed the news with the following comment:

“This confirms what we have been seeing for some time, which is renewables steadily becoming more important in meeting our electricity needs, and wind being responsible for the lion’s share of the progress. That this period coincided with one of the coldest Springs on record means that wind was providing this power at a crucial time.

“The fact that we have seen the record for renewables generation broken twice in the space of a few months shows for itself the progress being made in the race to decarbonise our economy and secure our future electricity supply.”

In further good news this week saw Scotland’s biomass capacity increase! Sky cut the ribbon on four new biomass boilers at its customer contact centre in Livingston. This is the latest renewable energy generation scheme to be completed by Sky following the installation of a wind turbine at the company’s headquarters in Heathrow. The company has publicly committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 25% and improving its energy efficiency by 20%.

The new biomass boilers are expected to provide enough heat and hot water for the sites 2500 staff. Fuel is to be sourced from local forestry offcuts ensuring that carbon emissions as a result of transporting fuel to the site are kept to a minimum. The boilers are expected to reduce the Livingston sites carbon output by approximately 500 tonnes per year.

The publication of these DECC statistics reveals that the UK’s renewable energy industry is continuing to grow; creating jobs and increasing energy security all across the country.

New surveys reveals continuing support for renewable energy

The Department of Energy and Climate Change published it’s sixth quarterly tracker survey yesterday.

The survey is carried out every three months to monitor the public’s attitudes to the government’s energy policies. Face to face interviews were carried out at 2,124 households in early July. The published results confirm that the public’s support for renewable energy remains widespread.

76% of those polled stated that they supported or strongly supported the continuing use and expanding development of the UK’s vast renewable energy resources.

Whilst this represents a very slight decline from previous survey results it should be pointed out that the poll was conducted at the height of the shale gas industry’s media blitz, particularly within the right wing press.

This media campaign does not appear to have had the desired affect. There was no change in the level of people who oppose or strongly oppose renewable energy. Only 5% of those polled gave this opinion; demonstrating that this view remains the preserve of an extremist minority. It is also worth making the point that despite much lobbying those parts of the UK which have been proposed as areas suitable for shale gas exploration, or fracking, have seen widespread and organised protests against the proposals.

18% of those surveyed commented that they had no opinion on renewable energy development. This equals the highest level recorded since the surveys were first carried out. Again this suggests that the campaign against renewables in some parts of the media is failing to have the desired affect.

The poll also revealed further positive news for the renewable energy industry. 71% of the people polled gave the opinion that they believe renewable energy to be economically beneficial to the UK. This is a 2% increase from the 69% of people who gave this opinion in the previous survey. Furthermore, 56% revealed that they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their local area. Again this was an increase from the previous poll in which 55% gave this opinion. The upwards trend of these opinions can perhaps be attributed to the fact that more renewable energy developments have came online in the time between the two surveys. More people have had a chance to see the economic benefits of renewable energy development in terms of community contributions and job creation. As the positive impacts of renewable energy are felt more widely one can expect the upwards trend of such opinions to continue.

The survey broke down support levels for individual forms of renewable energy generation: 81% stated their support for solar energy, 72% for wave and tidal energy, 71% for offshore wind generation, 65% for onshore wind generation and 60% for biomass. It has been suggested that the reason  wave and tidal and offshore wind have polled so highly is due their relatively low visual impact as opposed to their cost effectiveness; a standard in which other technologies such as onshore wind rank far higher.

In contrast to the continuing support for renewable energy nuclear power saw its support amongst the public continue to decline. Only 37% of those involved in the poll gave their support to its use in the UK. The level of support for nuclear has declined of several quarterly surveys and one can perhaps expect this trend to continue given the continued presence of the Fukushima disaster in the news. 25% of those polled opposed the use of nuclear power (contrasted with the 5% who did not support nuclear) and 35% had no opinion. The decline in support for nuclear as well as the uncertainty surrounding the prospects of new nuclear plants being built indicates that renewables will very much remain key to UK government energy policy.

DECC has long maintained that it regards the future of UK energy generation to be the use of a variety of different energy sources; what is often referred as the ‘mixed portfolio’. This stance continues to have a strong level of support from the UK public with 81% of those polled giving their backing to this policy.

The poll has revealed some of the issues which DECC is facing in terms of public awareness. 74% of people polled commented that they had thought ‘a fair amount’ or indeed a lot about home energy efficiency. Despite this and the launch of the Green Deal this year 47% revealed that they had never heard of smart meters. More will need to be done in this area but it should be noted that this figure represents an improvement on the 53% who gave the same answer in the previous quarter. Additionally the widespread roll out of smart meters (all homes and businesses are expected to have smart meters installed by 2020) is not scheduled to begin until 2015.

The fact that there exists a majority consensus on climate change is also good news for the renewable industry with 66% of the public fairly or very concerned about the issue. 38% of those polled attributed climate change mainly or entirely to human causes. 42% felt that it was being caused by a combination of human and natural causes and only 12% giving the opinion that it was being caused mainly or solely due to natural developments. These results indicate that the debate on the widespread use of renewable energy is far better placed in the UK than it is in a country such as the United States where the climate change debate is far more divisive both publicly and politically. A consensus existing on climate change means that the debate can move forward to how best to address it; which renewable energy generation can play an extremely major part in doing.

Support for renewable energy remains widespread in the UK. It is our hope that we at ILI (Renewable Energy) can do our part to increase it.

 

Survey reveals widespread support for Renewables

A survey recently carried out by YouGov has revealed that a majority of the British population is in favour of both increased renewable energy development and the use of government subsidies as funding . The results were based upon a sample of around 1,700 people. The survey had been commissioned by the Sunday Times but is yet to appear in the paper. It is unclear as to why this is the case.

The survey asked the initial question; “Thinking about the country’s future energy provision, do you think the government should be looking to use more or less of the following?” and returned the following results:

Solar power
More than at present – 74%
Less than at present – 6%
Maintain current levels – 12%
Not sure – 9%

Wind farms
More than at present – 56%
Less than at present – 19%
Maintain current levels – 15%
Not sure – 9%

Nuclear power stations
More than at present – 35%
Less than at present – 27%
Maintain current levels – 23%
Not sure – 15%

Oil power stations
More than at present – 10%
Less than at present – 47%
Maintain current levels – 27%
Not sure – 17%

Coal power stations
More than at present – 16%
Less than at present – 43%
Maintain current levels – 25%
Not sure – 17%

These figures demonstrate that the public have identified renewables as the future of the country’s energy policy with only a minority believing that new fossil fuel plants are the way forward. It should be noted that the older a person is the more likely they are to support new nuclear plants and less likely to support renewable developments.

The survey went on to ask the following questions:

“Do you think the government is right or wrong to subsidise wind farms to encourage more use of wind power?”

Right 60%
Wrong 26%
Don’t know 15%

Do you think increased use of wind power is or is not a realistic way of combating climate change?

Realistic 47%
Not realistic 36%
Don’t know 16%

Do you think increased use of solar power is or is not a realistic way of combating climate change?

Realistic 67%
Not realistic 18%
Don’t know 15%

These results demonstrate that the majority of people can see the benefits of the Feed-in tariff in encouraging renewable energy developments to reduce carbon emissions, tackle climate change and give the country energy security. This is despite a concerted campaign in some areas of the media against renewables and the spread of misinformation about the impact green subsidies are having on energy bills, particularly compared to ever increasing wholesale gas prices.

James Murray, of BusinessGreen, described the poll results as “explosive” and the “best kind of early Christmas present”.

The survey comes as the end of a year which has been described as “exceptional” for renewables by the Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. Much investmentment has occurred in the Scottish Renewable Energy Sector in 2011, demonstrated by the recent announcement that SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) is to create an offshore wind hub in Dundee (which recently missed out on a similar development by Spanish turbine manufacturer Gamesa) and create 700 jobs.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, commented: “Even as 2011 comes to a close we are continuing  to welcome major announcements from international companies such as Gamesa, who have signaled an interest in establishing a presence in Leith, and SSE who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with key figures in Dundee to build an offshore wind hub and create 700 jobs.

“It’s announcments like these that have helped grow public support for renewables too.”

We can but hope the good news continues in 2012.