Renewable generation climbs 'to record levels'

Renewable generation climbs 'to record levels'

Renewable generation climbs 'to record levels'

Energy use has fallen in Britain, while the generation of renewables has reached an all-time high, new statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reveal.

The UK's low carbon transition appears to be continuing to gather momentum, as a sharp fall in energy demand combined with an increase in the production of renewables has resulted in a reduction in the amount of fossil fuels produced.


According to the 'Energy Trends' update for the third quarter of 2014, low carbon electricity's share of total energy generation rose to 38.6 per cent, up from 37.1 per cent in the same period of 2013.


Surprisingly, the sector managed to achieve this increase despite the unforeseen closure of two nuclear reactors that resulted in a 16 per cent year-on-year drop in this type of energy generation.


Overall, renewables output climbed by nearly a quarter, gaining ground on the back of increased capacity and high winds, while bioenergy production jumped by 31 per cent - both of which, when combined, more than make up for the fall in nuclear generation.


Analysing the figures further, it is revealed that renewable electricity generation was boosted by 24 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2014, while capacity climbed 19 per cent to 23.1 gigawatts (GW) - an increase mainly attributed to the development of solar farms and 1.5GW of new wind farm capacity. 


Looking at each of the countries that make up the UK individually, it appears Scotland in particular has enjoyed a surge in renewable generation, with separate figures for 2013 showing that the sector's share of the market matches fossil fuels for the first time, each providing a 32 per cent share. The DECC figures demonstrate that in the year ending in September, Scottish renewables generation was up 21 per cent year on year.


Commenting on the figures, Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said: "Renewable generation continues to go from strength to strength in Scotland - now matching fossil fuels for the first time.


"The figures show 2013 was another record breaking year for renewables and we continue to be on track to do the same in 2014 - with renewable electricity production up 21 per cent on the same time last year. We remain on track for our targets of 50 per cent of demand by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2020."


However, despite the positive information the Energy Trends update contains, trade association RenewableUK cautioned that the sector could now be at risk from prime minister David Cameron's "attacks on onshore wind farms".


In a statement, Jennifer Webber, director of external affairs at the organisation, said two-thirds of the public polled by both YouGov and Ipsos MORI have come out in support of wind energy and the majority want more onshore farms.


"Their understanding of the importance of generating clean power from home-grown sources stands in sharp contrast to the misguided and quite frankly ignorant comments by the prime minister earlier this week, when he wrongly suggested that people are fed up with wind."


The increase in low carbon generation's share of the UK's power mix has been helped significantly by a steep drop in energy consumption, which experienced a fall across both the domestic and industrial sectors, despite Britain's continued economic recovery.


Posted by Julie Tucker


Image courtesy of Thinkstock/iStock