UK Renewable Energy Growth In 2012

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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

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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