UK Renewables Generation at 25%


The renewables’ share of electricity generation stood at 25.1% in Q1 2016, an increase of 2.3% against Q1 2015, even though wind speeds and rainfall were lower than last year. According to the newly released statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the increase can be largely attributed to an increase in capacity. Renewables made up 23.2 TWh of electricity generation, 5.6 TWh of which was from plant biomass as the third unite at Drax Power Station was converted to high-range co-firing.

Renewables Generation Q1 2016 GWh

Electricity generation from solar photovoltaics(PV) increased by 41% year-on-year. For the first time the solar PV share of renewable capacity has nudged slightly higher than that for onshore wind. Although there was an increase in wind capacity, overall wind output was reduced because of lower wind speeds.

Overall, renewables capacity stood at 31.2 GW at the end of Q1, 11.8% higher than in 2015.

Meanwhile further statistics showed that 2.9% of petrol and diesel consumed in transport was met by the consumption of liquid biofuels, with 327 million litres consumed in Q1 2016, 4.1% higher than at the same time last year.

While these statistics are good news for renewables, the investment can in large part be attributed to past subsidies which were cut last year because of concerns over rising costs. There is concern that any decision on future support for renewables may now come some way down the list of priorities, given the governments focus on the aftermath of the Brexit vote. The government has recently committed to stringent climate change targets under UK law, but is yet to issue an action plan that will meet those targets. The United Nations has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to commit to greening the UK’s energy supply, arguing that generating more electricity from renewable sources will boost jobs and the economy during a time of uncertainty.

In positive news, Vattenfall has announced it decision to forge ahead with a £300m investment off the coast of Aberdeen, despite the UK’s vote to leave the EU. The 92.4 MW project will consist of 11 turbines which will send electricity to the grid but will also act as a testing ground for the use of new materials and technologies which will bring down the cost of offshore wind.

A forecast of renewables cost, recently published by IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), predicts that the average global cost of offshore wind will fall by 35% by 2025. It also sees a fall of 59% in the cost of generating electricity from solar PV. A similar report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts a similar reduction but does not see this being reached until 2040. BP’s Statistical Review, published last month, points to the falling price of renewables and is of the view that we could see a quicker path of penetration for renewables than for any other fuel in history, although BP thinks that on a global scale, this is still only likely to be around 8% of primary energy in 20 years’ time.

Nikki Wilson

Nikki joined Alfa Energy in September 2015 as a Carbon Management Consultant where she advises clients on legislation, compliance, and the implementation of carbon management schemes. She is a Practitioner member of IEMA, has a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Decision Making, and has over 15 years’ experience in energy consultancy.