A new report shows that renewable energy investment in the United Kingdom hit a record high in 2014, with electricity generated from renewables increasing by 20% as well.
In fact, in 2014, not only did renewable energy investment hit a record of £10.7 billion, but renewable jobs increased by 9% as well.
Nevertheless, the authors of the report — PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Innovas, and commissioned by the UK’s Renewable Energy Association (REA) — are sure to warn that complacency will severely hurt the country’s renewable energy industry, especially in light of future decisions about Feed in Tariffs (FiT), the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), and transport.
The specifics of the report include a total electricity generation of 64,404GWh in 2014, up 20% from 53,667GWh in 2013. This news comes only a few weeks after the Renewable Energy Association announced that the UK’s renewable energy industry saw a 9% increase in jobs, with regions such as the East Midlands, North West, London and Scotland showing stronger than average employment growth. These are promising figures for the UK renewable energy industry, with the UK’s 2020 obligations quickly coming up.
“We are delighted that renewable energy sources are becoming an ever greater contributor to the UK’s energy mix,” said Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association. “Today’s figures show excellent progress in a number of sectors, both in terms of generation and installed capacity.
Electricity generation forecast investment by technology, 2015-20 (£bn)
However, according to the REA, the growth rate required to meet these 2020 obligations — 15% of the UK’s energy (including electricity, transport, and heat) from renewable sources by 2020 — currently sits at 16%, one of the highest rates in the European Union.
Subsequently, newly re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron has some serious decisions to make regarding the FiT review and whether or not to extend the RHI, which has only been allocated funding through to April 2016. And according to the REA, “renewable transport remains stagnant” ahead of the UK government needing to make a decision on the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.
“But we cannot be complacent,” Dr Skorupska continued. “Our analysis shows that where regulatory and financial support for renewable energy has been stable and sufficient, there has been considerable success, but where there has not, technologies have either stalled or gone backwards.
“In light of the growth rate for renewables needed for the UK to meet its 2020 targets, it is vital that the new government demonstrates the necessary leadership and ambition to enable our industry to thrive.”
The country’s investment figures also surged over 2014, though there are similar concerns over the future of the industry’s investments.
According to the report, 2014 saw investment of £10.7 billion, its highest levels, bringing the total investment into the UK renewables industry up to £50 billion forecast for the end of this year.
Historical and forecast investment in renewables (2010-20)
“2014 has been another strong year for investment in the renewable energy sector, bringing the total investment since 2010 to £40 billion,” said Ronan O’Regan, director, Renewables and Cleantech, PwC. “The majority of investment during 2014 was in renewable electricity generation, attracting almost £10 billion of capital, with solar the big winner representing £4.5 billion of investment.
“However, reaching the 2020 targets is estimated to require a further £50 billion of investment, The sector will be looking to the new Secretary of State to provide the investor certainty through to the end of the decade and beyond both in terms of funding and technology preferences.”