Bioenergy makes record contributions to UK energy mix

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has released its latest quarterly energy trends publication, highlighting the growing contribution made to the UK's electricity production by biomass power and biofuels as well as the vital role they play in the reduction of CO2 emissions.

The report states that bioenergy accounted for 5.6TWh (7%) of electricity generation in 2014 Q2, an increase of 8.8% compared with the previous year. This is mainly as a result of conversions at both Drax and Ironbridge power stations, which have begun the shift from coal to sustainable biofuel.

Commenting on the report, the chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) Dr Nina Skorupska said: “Today’s figures highlight the vital role of biomass in the UK electricity mix. With wind speeds below average, wind generation has actually decreased, so it’s vital that we get more flexible biomass generation into our low carbon power supply as well as more wind.

“Biomass has reached a new record today, but this valuable growth won’t continue unless the Government puts supportive policies in place.”

Government holdbacks

The past year has seen an increase to 4% of vehicles in the UK now using sustainable biofuels such as biodiesel and bioethanol. However, the current legal cap of 4.75% is holding back sales of more UK home-grown bioethanol.

In order for the UK to achieve more stable and sustainable growth, the REA says Decc must increase this cap under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation; to allow the introduction of higher biofuel blends and set a trajectory to achieving the 10% renewable transport target by 2020.

Skorupska added: “The fuel in our tanks has never been greener than in the last quarter, which is great news. But our consumption of sustainable biofuels is too unstable at the moment, with inconsistent policies leading to jumps one quarter and drops the next.

“The Government must remove the artificial constraints on sustainable biofuels, so that current businesses have a UK market to sell into, and future businesses have the certainty they need to invest in the stable growth of the sustainable biofuels industry.”

The Government’s latest data, reported on by edie earlier today (25 September), also called to attention the potential of solar power to create jobs, drive economic growth and cut energy bills.

Here is a summary of the report’s key results for 2014 Q2

  • Renewables’ share of electricity generation was 16.8% in 2014 Q2, up by 0.9% on the share in 2013 Q2, with the fall in overall generation exceeding that of renewables.
  • Renewable electricity generation was 13.2TWh in 2014 Q2, a fall of 1% on the 13.4TWh in 2013 Q2. 
  • Bioenergy generation increased by 8.8% in 2014 Q2, from 5.2TWh in 2013 
  • Q2 to a record 5.6TWh.
  • Solar PV was up 67%, from 0.7TWh to 1.2TWh due to increased capacity.
  • Renewable electricity capacity was 22.2GW at the end of 2014 Q2, a 13.8% increase (2.7GW) on a year earlier and 4.5% (0.9 GW) increase on the previous quarter.
  • By the end of 2014 Q2, 2,816MW of capacity had been installed, and eligible for, the Feed in Tariff scheme, an increase of 27% on a year earlier, constituting approximately 13% of all renewable installed capacity.
  • Liquid biofuel consumption rose by 17.8%, from 394 million litres in 2013 Q2 to a record 464 million litres in 2014 Q2, with biodiesel up by over 30%.

Lois Vallely

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