Renewable Energy Generates More Than 25% Of UK Electricity In 1st Quarter

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Renewable energy sources generated more than a quarter of the UK’s electricity in the first quarter of this year, with onshore wind setting a record high of 8.3%, helping to further dismantle the UK’s reliance upon coal energy.

In total, renewable energy accounted for 26.6% of the UK’s electricity generation in the first quarter, up from 25.6% in the same quarter a year ago, thanks primarily to increases in wind and solar generation. And while this is good news, it was still 0.2% lower than renewable energy’s record high of 26.8% in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The big winner this past quarter was onshore wind, which increased the amount of electricity it contributed by 20%, up from 6.4 TWh in 2016 Q1 to 7.7 TWh. Offshore wind fell by 2.7% to 5.0 TWh. Meanwhile, solar PV generation increased by a respectable 16% to 1.7 TWh, and hydro-generation fell by 15% down to 1.8 TWh. All in all, the UK’s renewable electricity capacity by the end of this year’s first quarter reached 36.9 GW, up 12% on the same time a year earlier and up 3.3% on the previous fourth quarter. Solar PV accounted for one-third of all renewable capacity, at 12.2 GW, followed by onshore wind which made up 32%, bioenergy with 16%, and offshore wind with 15%.

“Renewable energy is a mainstream technology, which is cheaper and more advanced than ever,” said RenewableUK’s Executive Director, Emma Pinchbeck. “Our innovative industries have matured to the point where we now reliably provide over 25% of the UK with clean, sustainable power. It’s great to see that onshore wind has set a new record, producing more electricity than ever at a time of year when we need it most.”

Good news for the UK renewable energy industry often also means great news for the Scottish renewable energy industry, and this quarter is no different. Renewable energy generation in Scotland increased by 13% in the first quarter, and capacity increased by 16% to 9.3 GW.

“Scotland’s renewable energy industry is doing exactly what it was designed to do — creating reliable clean energy and skilled jobs, attracting investment and helping reduce the amount of damaging carbon emitted by polluting fossil fuels,” said Stephanie Clark, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, responding to the news. “These new figures show that the industry, as Scotland’s biggest producer of electricity, continues to go from strength to strength, benefitting both our economy and our environment.

“It’s fantastic news that Scotland’s renewable electricity generation is at an all-time high and re-affirms the vital role it plays in powering the country,” added Dr Sam Gardner, Acting Director of WWF Scotland.

“The renewable electricity sector continues to play a vital role at the heart of Scotland’s economy, delivering jobs and attracting investment.  If we are to replicate these benefits in the wider economy the Energy Strategy from the Scottish Government should make clear the steps it plans to take to remove fossil fuels from the heat and transport sectors.

“The Scottish Government now needs to set out clear policies for how it will replicate its amazing progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors to ensure we hit the 50 per cent target by 2030.”

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Joshua S Hill

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