A bevy of recently released reports reveal the extent to which the UK’s environmental and energy policies are having a positive affect not only on the environment, but on industry as well. The Department of Energy & Climate Change released figures which showed the United Kingdom’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 8.4% in 2014, and that renewables accounted for 19.2% of the overall energy mix in the country. On top of that, Scottish Renewables announced that renewable energy generation met almost half of Scotland’s needs in 2014.
GHG Emissions Drop 8.4%
According to the Provisional UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics 2014 report released by the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) on Thursday, “the basket of seven greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol” were estimated to have dropped to 520.5 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), 8.4% lower than 2013 levels.
Specifically, carbon dioxide levels were estimated to have dropped to 422.0 million tonnes, 9.7% lower than 2013 levels. Though carbon dioxide is one of several greenhouse gas emissions, and arguably not even the most dangerous, CO2 does make up 82% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, so these decreases are good news.
The largest decrease between 2013 and 2014 carbon dioxide emission levels came from the energy supply sector, which saw a decrease of 15%, or 27.6 million tonnes of CO2, thanks to “a decrease in electricity generation coupled with a change in the fuel mix for electricity generation”.
In response to these figures, Emma Pinchbeck, the WWF-UK’s Head of Climate and Energy Policy said that “falling carbon emissions from the energy sector is welcome news and shows that action on carbon emissions gets results.”
“While this 9% drop is positive, we must remember that more ambitious carbon emissions reductions are required across different sectors to meet our climate change commitments,” Pinchbeck continued. “In particular, the Committee on Climate Change stated that emissions from the energy used in buildings have not been sufficiently addressed. Government must get serious about reducing demand in order to lower bills in the long term and ensure we meet our carbon budgets.”
Renewables Account For 19.2%
Again on Wednesday, the Department of Energy & Climate Change also released its UK energy statistics: statistical press release – March 2015 report. The statistics therein cover energy production and consumption, in total and by fuel.
Total energy production for 2014 was 1.5% lower than it was in 2013, however, “this rate of decrease … was the lowest for 12 years, and was due to falls in nuclear output, and lower production of both coal and oil.” On the flip side, gas output increased for the first time since 2000, accounting for 30.2% of electricity generated in 2014.
“Higher renewables generation” helped push “low carbon electricity’s share of generation” to 38.3% in 2014, up from 2013’s 34.6%.
Renewable electricity generated increased 20% on 2013 levels, growing from 53.7 TWh to 64.4 TWh in 2014. Bioenergy accounted for 24%, and wind generation another 11%, with renewables share of electricity generation reaching a record 19.2% in 2014, an increase of 4.3% on 2013 numbers. By the end of 2014, renewable energy capacity reached 24.2 GW, a 23% increase over 2013’s level.
Scotland Surges Along
Scotland’s renewable energy industry trade body, Scottish Renewables, commented on Scotland’s place in the DECC statistics, highlighting that renewable electricity generation met almost half (49.6%, according to the Scottish Government) of the country’s needs in 2014. Onshore wind energy makes up 30% of all electricity demand, with strong performances from hydro, solar PV, and biomass as well.
“These figures show how valuable the renewables sector is to Scotland, with wind and rain generating almost half of our electricity needs,” said Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager at industry body Scottish Renewables. “With records broken for all our major renewable energy technologies –– hydro, solar pv, biomass and wind –– 2014 was the best year ever for green energy in Scotland.”
Scotland’s 49.6% renewables was up from 44.4% in 2013, and shows just how strong the country’s focus on renewable energy generation is.
“Renewable electricity generation continues to go from strength to strength in Scotland – and I am pleased we have almost met our 50 per cent renewable electricity target a year ahead of schedule,” said Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. “2014 was also another recording breaking year for wind output up 4 per cent and the Scottish Government remains committed to continuing this upward trend. The recent independent survey by YouGov shows further support for the development of wind power, with an increase to 71 per cent in public backing.
“The Scottish Government has made its energy policy a top priority and has achieved great progress, despite being limited in terms of its devolved responsibilities. We look forward to proposals for more powers encompassing the necessary levers to deliver Scottish priorities.”