New figures published by the UK Government have highlighted the record performance of the country’s renewable energy industry during 2015.
According to new figures published (PDF) by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), 2015 saw renewable energy generate a record 24.7% of the country’s electricity, an increase of 5.6% on 2014 numbers. As a result, electricity bills across the country are falling.
Specifically, wind energy saw its contribution grow 26%, so that wind energy is now powering 9.8 million households in the UK. Solar output increased even more, growing 86%, while bioenergy grew a modest 28%. In total, renewable electricity generation in 2015 was 83.3 TWh, an increase of 29% over 2014’s 64.7 TWh.
Meanwhile, coal output was 27% lower than it was in 2014, due primarily to the closure of numerous coal mines around the country. Coal imports were also down, dropping 39%, as generators’ demand for coal fell 24%, its lowest level ever.
Parallel to renewable energy’s record growth is the slowly declining cost of electricity prices for the average consumer. Figures published by the DECC (PDF) revealed that the average household electricity bill had decreased by £8, or 1.4%.
“These excellent figures show that renewable energy is delivering huge amounts of clean electricity right now, and that overall energy costs are coming down – including wind energy,” said Maf Smith, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive. “Putting the consumer first means putting renewables first. As old coal turns off, renewables are quietly taking its place, delivering energy security and value for money. It makes more sense than ever to fully support and take advantage of our natural resources.”
However, the UK’s Renewable Energy Association has raised concerns that this growth may still not be enough to meet the country’s 2020 targets.
“On the face of it, it appears that the government will meet its renewable electricity target of 30 per cent by 2020,” said James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association. “In reality, due to the significant failure to increase the rate of renewables in the heating and transport sectors, the REA projects that we will clearly miss our overall renewable energy target.
“We would have to meet the target of 44 to 45 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 to achieve our legal targets. There is a desperate need for policy certainty and a clear electricity plan that doesn’t gamble everything on new nuclear, in addition to urgent action for renewable heat and transport.”