Renewables now a Major Contributor to UK Energy

Renewable electricity up 20% on previous year

2012 was a strong year for the performance of renewable energy generation, mainly due to new renewable power projects coming on-stream, Government figures reveal today [1]. 11.3% of the UK’s electricity last year was generated from renewables overall, and 12.5% in the fourth quarter.

Much of this growth is due to new on- and offshore wind farms, in spite of lower than average wind speeds over the year. 2012 was also fairly dry, meaning less output from hydro. Biomass generation increased 17%, largely thanks to Tilbury’s conversion to biomass, and the capacity of solar PV increased 70%, up to 1.7GW. Total UK renewable power capacity now stands at 15.5GW.

REA Chief Executive Gaynor Hartnell comments:

“Renewables now generate more than 10% of our electricity on average. Compared to 2011, generation from onshore and offshore wind increased by 15% and 46% respectively, while solar PV capacity is up 70%. The conversion of Tilbury also shows what a big difference biomass can make, especially at a time when the Government is desperate to bring forward affordable, baseload, low carbon generation.

“It is a critical time for industry as the Energy Bill makes its way through Parliament. We look forward to working with Michael Fallon in his new role as Energy Minister, particularly in light of his work on the 2008 Planning and Energy Act, but a change of Ministers at this crucial time further complicates matters.”

However, there was a reduction in the consumption of liquid biofuels for transport. Biofuels remain a small sector of UK motor fuel (down to 2.6%), and urgently need certainty in the policy framework to fulfil their potential for decarbonising transport. All biofuels consumed in the UK must meet strict sustainability criteria, and UK-produced biofuels are among the best in the world for greenhouse gas savings.

Gaynor Hartnell said:

“These are trying times for producers of renewable transport fuels. The removal of the fuel duty rebate for used cooking oil has significantly reduced biodiesel consumption, but the 5% cap on first generation biofuels proposed by the EU poses a much greater problem. We are pleased to hear that Ministers are prepared to be flexible on the level of the cap. The REA, alongside representatives of other land-based industries, will continue to call for greater use of genuinely sustainable biofuels.”

Today’s release does not include statistics on renewable heat. The REA anticipates modest growth in renewable heat capacity since the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Gaynor Hartnell said:

“Heating accounts for around half of the UK’s carbon emissions. We urge Ministers to ensure that there are no further delays to the domestic RHI. This will be crucial for raising awareness of renewable heat among consumers, and boosting confidence in the industry.”

The Renewable Energy Association represents renewable energy producers and promotes the use of all forms of renewable energy in the UK across power, heat, transport and renewable gas. It is the largest renewable trade association in the UK, with over 1,000 members, ranging from major multinationals to sole traders. For more information, see: www.r-e-a.net

Source: REA

For more information on: REA