Month: January 2018

Wind energy continues to break records in 2018

Wind energy continues to break records in 2018

2018 is already a good year for electricity generation via wind power with total output reaching 10 gigawatts for the first time last week with it continuing to climb before peaking at 13.5 gigawatts. This meant that 29% of the UK’s electricity was supplied by wind power at that point.

The UK’s total renewable energy capacity currently stands at 39GW with 12.5 of those gigawatts coming from onshore wind and 6.1GW from offshore wind. This means that we generate twice as much electricity from wind as we do from coal.

Although new developments have almost ground to a halt there are still a limited amount being added each month so as the overall capacity increases so will output meaning we can expect more record breaking days, especially during the winter months when it is traditionally windier.

The figures come from Drax Electric Insights which gathers together the different energy sources generating electricity in the UK and analyzes the supply, demand, price, and environmental impacts.

Speaking at the release on the record breaking numbers Dr Jonathan Marshall, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “Breaking short-term output records on top of monthly and annual figures clearly shows that wind is now a major part of the UK electricity mix, and will continue to be in the future. Claims that the grid would be unable to handle 5, 10, or 20% wind power have been shown to be well wide of the mark.

“Possessing some of the windiest regions in Europe, the UK is poised to lead its peers in wind generation. Analysis has shown a UK resource of nearly 500 TWh per year, more than a third more than current annual power consumption. The Government has shown its willingness to install new capacity offshore, but is lagging on onshore wind as other countries move ahead, and as its official advisors call for barriers preventing the cheapest form of electricity generation to be removed.”

Also announced this week is the Scottish Government has launched a £60m fund called The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) to finance large scale low carbon energy projects. The European Regional Development Fund will co-fund the projects which in order to qualify must support the new Energy Strategy which was published in December 2017.

Projects which qualify will include low carbon heating and ultra-low emission vehicle charging infrastructure. The maximum grant per project is capped at £100,000, they must be based in Scotland and be operational by 2021. In addition the grant can only make up to 50% of the total capital value of the project.

Scottish Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We have, first and foremost, a moral obligation to fight climate change. But for a nation with Scotland’s resources and skills, the transition to a more prosperous, low-carbon and circular economy also presents a valuable economic opportunity.

“We are determined to attract, retain and develop the low-carbon innovators who will shape our future. That is why I am delighted to confirm that we are now accepting applications from innovative local energy projects to the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.”

As wind power continues to prove itself as a reliable clean source of energy we hope that a turnaround in government policy to once again support the infrastructure can be implemented. The grid has proven itself capable of handling the loads and advancements in storage options give even more flexibility.

Although 100% of all our energy requirements via wind alone is unlikely, 100% from all renewables is now certainly achievable however in order for this to happen wind must bear the largest portion of the load. Something which cannot happen without more projects developed and linked to the grid.

The UK’s greenest year

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.

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