Published on May 7th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


UK Renewable Energy Growth In 2012

May 7th, 2013 by  

The UK certainly isn’t in the limelight for its solar leadership like Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia are. But, despite some clear ups and downs (and mistakes), it is progressing pretty well. In 2012, 11.3% of the country’s electricity came from renewables, compared to 9.4% in 2011. In Q4, the share rose to 12.5%. Overall, renewable electricity generation increased 20% — from 34.4 TWh in 2011 to 41.1 TWh in 2012 — and capacity increased 26% — from 12.3 GW to 15.5 GW.

renewables share ukOffshore wind energy contributed the largest absolute increase amongst renewable energy sources. It saw a 46% year-over-year rise — from 5.1 TWh to 7.5 TWh.

Bioenergy (landfill gas, sewage gas, municipal solid waste, plant biomass, animal biomass, and generation from co-firing) was close behind with its increase, a 17% increase from 13 TWh in 2011 to 15.2 TWh in 2012.

Onshore wind increased 15% — from 10.4 TWh to 11.9 TWh.

Meanwhile, hydroelectricity dropped 8.1% — from 5.7 TWh to 5.2 TWh.

Solar PV increased over 526% — from 0.252 TWh to 1.327 TWh — but it still only accounted for 3.2% of renewable energy generation.

renewable energy split ukThe renewable energy generation split in 2012 was as such:

  • Bioenergy — 37%
  • Onshore wind — 29%
  • Offshore wind — 18%
  • Hydro — 13%
  • Solar PV — 3.2%

For more details on renewable energy generation in 2012 or in Q4, check out the recently published UK government report.

As far as capacity goes, here’s an excerpt from the report:

At the end of 2012 Q4, the UK’s renewable electricity capacity totalled 15.5 GW, an increase of one quarter (3.2 GW) on that installed at the end of 2011 Q4 and 3.9 per cent (0.6 GW) on that installed at the end of the previous quarter.

At the end of 2012 Q4, onshore wind had the highest share of capacity (38 per cent), followed by bioenergy (21 per cent), offshore wind (19 per cent), hydro and solar PV (11 per cent each).

During 2012, onshore and offshore wind capacity each increased by 1.2 GW, with several large on and offshore wind farms opening, or continuing to expand, during the year. Solar PV capacity also saw a large increase, as a result of the Great Britain Feed in Tariff scheme, with 0.7 GW being added to the 1.0 GW installed at the end of 2011.

Just in case you missed that last line, solar PV capacity saw a 70% increase in capacity compared to the end of 2011. Here’s a full chart on the renewable electricity capacity split.

renewable energy capacity uk

As you can see in this final chart (below), solar PV accounted for the bulk of new feed-in tariff capacity in the country.

UK feed in tariffs

At the end of 2012, 1,655 MW of renewable energy capacity had been put on line under the GB Feed in Tariff scheme (the British word for program). That’s an 11% increase from the capacity at the end of Q3 2012, and more than twice as much as was on line at the end of 2011 (658 MW). You can see the considerable rise in the chart above.

The 1,655 MW was spread across approximately 358,000 installations, giving a sense for the staggering amount of paperwork that must have gone into this growth. About 28,000 installations were added in Q4 2012 alone.

Clearly, solar PV dominates here. It represented 99% of installations and 90% of capacity at the end of 2012. 332,000 or 981 MW of those solar installations are less than 4 kW in size.

However, larger solar installations did pick up at the end of 2012. “Whilst the majority (89 per cent) of the increase in FiT installations in 2012 Q4 was due to sub-4 kW retrofitted schemes, these contributed less than half of the increase in capacity terms; a further 21 per cent of the increase in capacity was from solar PV schemes in the 10-50 kW range, with 1,088 schemes, totalling 35 MW, being confirmed on FiTs during the quarter.”

Again, for more details, check out the full UK government report.

As planned, the UK government’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) has also just released new feed-in tariff rates for July–September 2013. The quick summary is as follows:

  • up to £0.1490/KWh — systems up to 4 kW in size
  • up to £0.1350/KWh — 4–10 KW
  • up to £0.1257/KWh — 10–50 KW
  • up to £0.1110/KWh (same as before) — over 50 kW

Your thoughts?

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

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  • Billy

    So much for renewable Mrs Merkel’s Germany’s converting backwards, going flat out; to build 16 new coal-fired and 15 new gas-fired power stations as renewable fails to deliver the goods.

    • Otis11

      Comment it not only blatantly false, but doesn’t really make sense in any context as it’s hardly an English sentence… I’m not sure what they’re even trying to spam…

      • Bob_Wallace

        I think we’re going to have to take up a collection and hire a better cast of sock puppets. The free version is rather pathetic….

        • Harry C02

          UK renewable energy program is not working to reduce Co2 emission, a report released today that the worlds Co2 emissions are at its highest level ever record in mans history, so why hasn’t rooftop solar power programs like the Californian CSI didn’t combat rising Co2 emission, many questions need to be answer here.

        • Otis11


  • Ann

    So much for the green movement in Australia, the carbon price has fallen from $30 a ton now $15 a ton, it expected carbon price will go below the European carbon price to $1 dollar a ton. This has proven that clean energy is not viable therefore return ‘burning coal is the better option. Australian economy is faltering because of the carbon price. The people will be removing this labor government from office, carbon price will be removed altogether with the new Liberal government which has selected coal energy as its new based load source of clean energy.

    • Ronald Brak

      Unaware that Australia’s carbon price is fixed at $23 a tonne. Unaware that the rest of the developed world would love to falter like Australia’s economy. Unaware that the carbon price cannot be removed without introducing “a great big new tax” or running deficits, which are both no-nos according to the Coalition. Unaware that there is no clean coal. In general – unaware.

      • Kenny

        Have you no seen the news, the carbon price set now at $15 dollars what are you smoking?

      • Vanson

        I think you are wrong on that mate. The Government said the carbon price will be lowered next week to $15 a ton, i think you should get your facts right mate and stop misleading people on the Aussie carbon price just like the rooftop solar house fires recorded in Australia.

      • Bobby

        And thanks to the great effort Greg combat environment Minister this week the great outcome in reducing the price of carbon trading down to $15 and going down further. The good news in Australia is that the carbon price has now collapsed to $15 a ton after the European carbon price collapsed in Germany & failed deliver renewable energy to the national grid. Traders are pulling their money away from carbon trading and now investing in cold fired power stations and stable’s liable source of base load energy 24/7 is being produced without interruption is a good thing for the economy.

      • Otis11

        Apparently spam from someone who doesn’t speak much English… and bad spam at that.

        They could at least try to get some shots in with bad math and ignorance instead of just lying…

        If this is the strongest opposition left though, I guess that’s good news…

  • Bob_Wallace

    Kind of a long list, but that’s a good thing.

    The countries currently getting more than 60% of their electricity from renewables. Yes, hydro does dominate the list, but remember that hydro was the renewable sources which became cheap early. Wind and solar are now arriving. Those countries with a lot of hydro could finish the job with some wind and solar and join the 100% Club.

    Albania (100% hydro in 2008).

    Angola (96.45% hydro in 2008)

    Austria (73.86% renewable in 2009, 12.5% of that non hydro)

    Belize (90.91% hydro in 2008) Update: REEGLE says only about 80%.

    Bhutan (99.86% hydro in 2008)

    Brazil (88.88% renewable with 4.93 non hydro in 2009)

    Burundi (100% hydro in 2008)

    Cameroon (77.31% hydro in 2008)

    Canada (61.95% renewable, with 1.86% non hydro in 2009)

    Central African Republic (81.25% renewable in 2008)

    Columbia (85.67% hydro in 2008)

    Congo (82.22% renewable in 2008)

    Costa Rica (93.11% renewable in 2008)

    DPR Korea (61.86% hydro in 2008)

    DR Congo (99.46% hydro in 2008)

    Ecuador (64.12% renewable in 2008, with 2.21% non hydro)

    El Salvador (62.24% renewable in 2008, with 26.92 non hydro)

    Ethiopia (88.17% renewable in 2008, with 0.27% non hydro)

    Fiji (68.04% renewable in 2008)

    Georgia (85.52% hydro in 2008)

    Ghana (75.03% hydro in 2008)

    Guatemala (61.31% renewable, with 17.5 non hydro in 2008)

    Iceland (100% renewable, with 26.27% geothermal in 2009).

    Kenya (62.59% renewable, with 21.06% non hydro in 2008)

    Kyrgyzstan (90.85% hydro in 2008)

    Lao PDR (92.46% hydro in 2008)

    Latvia (62.23% renewable with 1.96% non hydro in 2008)

    Lesotho (100% hydro in 2008)

    Madagascar (66.67% hydro in 2008)

    Malawi (86.31% hydro in 2008)

    Mozambique (99.87% hydro in 2008)

    Myanmar (62.05% hydro in 2008)

    Namibia (70.91% hydro in 2008)

    Nepal (99.67% hydro in 2008)

    New Zealand (72.52% renewable, including 15.42% non hydro in 2009)

    Norway (97.11% renewable, including 0.93% non hydro in 2009)

    Paraguay (100.00% hydro in 2008), exporting 90% of generated electricity (54.91 TWh in 2008)

    Peru (60.53% renewable, including 1.47% non hydro in 2008)

    Sweden (60.42% renewable, including 10.58% non hydro in 2009)

    Tajikistan (98.25% hydro in 2008)

    Tanzania (61.45% hydro in 2008)

    Uganda (74.77% hydro in 2008)

    Uruguay (61.98% renewable, with 9.33 non hydro in 2008)

    Venezuela (69.57% hydro in 2008)

    Zambia (99.69% hydro in 2008)

    Update: Some comments at this Cleantechnica post have kindly noted this list.

    Update April 2013: Portugal joins the list for the first quarter of 2013, with 70% renewable, 27% of which came from wind.

    This list was compiled on Mar 18 2012 Published by Karl-Friedrich Lenz under Energy from the desert.

  • James Wimberley

    The main takeaway is that the number of countries with decent renewables policies and supply chains is growing steadily. You can now add France, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia to the list, with the UK. The price drop is also lowering the bar for “decent renewables policy”: it no longer takes much of a subsidy, more a clear tariff framework, reasonably simple permitting, and a willingness to cause discomfort to established utilities. The prospects for renewables are less and less dependent on stop-go subsidy schemes in a few pioneer countries like Germany, and more on market fundamentals, steadily going their way.
    The second takeaway is that the prospects for another generation of nuclear plants in the UK are getting ever dimmer.

    • Agreed. Uplifting.

      And yeah, it’s hard to see them pushing through nuclear. On the other hand, nuclear seems to still have somewhat decent support from the voters.

      • Ronald Brak

        Nuclear in the UK is asking for a minimum wholesale electricity price of about 15 cents a kilowatt-hour to build Hinkley C. Even if they are holding Noddy ransom they are not going to get that. It’s more expensive than point of use solar. In England. That’s just plain embarrassing.

        • Kim

          But electricity in Oz land is well over that no thank to the carbon prices Tony Abbott carbon price away and replace it with direct action policy. Solar and wind power has not lower the cost of electricity in the land of the OZ.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The UKers are offering 12.4 cents guaranteed for every kWh produced for the next 20 years. And the nuke builders are cutting staff and walking away.

          20 years guaranteed. With both wind and solar already being under 10 cents.

          • Ronald Brak

            Walking away from a guaranteed minimum of 12.4 cents a kilowatt-hour has made it blindingly obvious that the nuclear industry cannot compete with other low emission generating capacity. Or, if one is a a true believer, I guess it must mean that the nuclear industry has decided not to compete. In which case we can draw some conclusions about their intelligence.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Or they figure that they can make money at 12.4 and are trying to work the number nigher.

            I think it unlikely they can make money at 12.4, but need to leave that possibility open. The US EIA thinks that nuclear at about that price is possible. But I don’t hold EIA forecasting abilities in high regard. They’re the go-to for history, but they continued to forecast solar high when panel prices were obviously plummeting.

          • Ronald Brak

            By holding out for even 12.4 cents a kilowatt-hour they are still destroying the nuclear industry and guaranteeing that Hinkley C will be the last reactor they ever build. So we’re still faced with the industry either being unable to compete or for some reason deciding not to compete and putting themsevles out of business.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve been playing with a very crude model of what our future grid electricity might cost at wholesale.

            Suppose we get about 50% of our electricity directly from wind at 5c/kwh, 20% from PV solar at 7c, 10% from hydro/geothermal/tidal at 7c, and the final 20% stored wind at 17c/kWh.

            The 17c is the Eos projected LCOE of stored 6c off-peak electricity stored in their batteries. I’m going high on numbers, off-peak should be cheaper, wind and solar are expected to decrease from what I use.

            (0.5 x 5c) + (0.2 x 7x) + (0.1 x 7c) + (0.2 x 17c) = 8c

            I’m suggesting that if new nuclear can’t profitably sell for less than 8c/kwh then it’s finished. Anywhere decisions are rational, that is….

          • Ronald Brak

            As a back of the evelope calculation I can’t see anything wrong with that. But a study on the actual cost of insurance for German reactors has a minimum figure of 19 cents a kilowatt-hour and a maximum figure that is vastly higher. So if the insurance cost for a modern nuclear reactor is half that of the minimum German figure, 8 cents a kilowatt-hour won’t even cover the insurance bill. If nuclear reactors had to pay the full cost of their insurance virtually all would be shut down in short order.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The independent studies I’ve seen for new nuclear in the last few years have pegged it a close to 20c or higher.

            Turkey requested a guaranteed price and the only submitted bit was for 21c/kWh.

            I think the turnkey bids received for new reactors in Ontario, CA and San Antonio penciled out at around 20c.

            I suspect we’re going to see countries back away from nuclear due to sticker shock. It looks like the UK might be about there. There’s a lot of noise right now in Taiwan over whether or not to build more nuclear.

            I’m betting financing is getting really, really hard. In the US the loan guarantee is only for the period of construction. It doesn’t protect the investment once the plant starts to produce.

          • Ronald Brak

            With Melborne levels of sunshine in Taipei and extremely low costs of capital, solar obviously has a lot of potential in Taiwan. As I’m sure we will soon see $1 an installed watt solar I think they’ll end up putting a lot of it on exterior walls due to their high density living conditions putting roof space at a premium. But building more nuclear reactors in a country which is one of the most densely populated in the world and is known for earthquakes and tsunamis? It would probably take quite an insurance premium to cover that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m pretty sure the pro-nuclear people simply assume that the host governments (taxpayers) will assume the liability.

          • Bob Wallace

            Ernest Moniz, nuclear physicist is now head of the US DOE.

            Im guessing nuclear isn’t going away.

          • Ronald Brak

            Haven’t you heard? Nuclear is completely safe! All those nuclear accidents in the past were just the result of specific circumstances that will never be repeated again and so we can be certain no nuclear accident will ever happen in the future. After all, the word accident means something we can predict with 100% reliability and so can be sure will never happen, right?

        • Completely agree. But the propagandists definitely have a good portion of the public misinformed.

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