The latest figures published by the UK Government show that renewable and clean energy sources continue to skyrocket, hitting 29.3% and 50.1% respectively, and led by another strong year for wind energy generation.
The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published its annual Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics report last week — the energy sector’s “bible” — and it was good news for the renewable and clean energy industries. Depending on how you look at it and what you include, renewable energy accounted for 29.3% of all electricity generated in 2017, or clean power (renewables plus nuclear) accounted for 50.1%.
The strong year for renewable energy was led by the wind energy industry, which generated a record total of 50 terawatt-hours (TWh) for the year — half of all renewable energy generation. More specifically, onshore wind generated 29.1 TWh (or 8.6%) in 2017 and offshore wind generated 20.9 TWh (or 6.2%). Generation from hydro sources increased by 10% to 5.9 TWh, while solar generation increased by 11% to 11.5 TWh for the year.
Renewable energy capacity for 2017 increased by 12.8% to 18,288 megawatts (MW), with wind capacity increased by 22.6% to 8,529 MW and solar capacity increased by 7.3% to 2,172 MW. For all other renewable energy sources (all excluding hydro, wind, and solar), capacity increased by 6% to 5,964 MW.
Coal generation fell by 26.5% compared to 2016 levels and, compared to 2015 levels, decreased by 70.3%. Gas generation actually decreased by 4.6% in 2017 compared to 2016, but this is only in comparison to the large increase seen in 2016, and gas still accounts for the majority of the UK’s electricity supply.
“Today’s record figures demonstrate how fast renewable energy is transforming the way we generate power to create an energy system fit for the future,” said Emma Pinchbeck, Executive Director of RenewableUK, the country’s trade body for the wind, wave, and tidal industries. “This is a radical shift, and we will see ever more low-cost renewables meeting flexible demand from homes, electric vehicles and new manufacturing processes and industries.”
“It’s great to see that the UK’s cheapest power source, onshore wind, is making such a significant contribution to the nation’s power needs. So it’s baffling that Government is still excluding new onshore wind projects from the market place. Opinion polls show that two-thirds of people think Ministers should change their current policy and allow onshore wind to go ahead where it has local support, and most Conservative voters agree with them.”
“As has been widely celebrated, we’ve seen record levels of renewable power generation,” said Léonie Greene, Director of Advocacy & New Markets for the UK Solar Trade Association. “However, behind the sunny generation statistics, the worrying detail on current solar deployment continues. DUKES data shows that overall annual solar deployment is at an eight-year low, and we are seeing annual markets of only around 200MW which is very worrying indeed.
“The data confirms the warnings from the Environmental Audit Committee yesterday that Government simply isn’t doing anything like enough to secure a policy framework that attracts decent levels of investment in clean energy. And let’s remember, when it comes to solar power, we are not asking for public support, we are simply asking for level playing fields on tax treatment and fair market access. That is not hard to deliver.”