Davey to continue renewable energy drive

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has reiterated that annual investment in renewable electricity has more than doubled this Parliament and 'is set to rise much further still'.

In his speech to Parliament on the publication of the Government’s Annual Energy Statement 2014 this week, Davey pointed out that 2013 was a record year for investment in renewable energy electricity generation.

Davey said: “In the first quarter of 2014, 19% of UK electricity was being provided by renewable resources. We now have more installed offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world. Onshore wind, the cheapest of the large-scale renewables, now supplies 5% of our electricity. And the good news is we have a strong investment pipeline for more onshore wind – worth up to £5.8bn to 2020.” 

He stated that solar and bioenergy projects have received £6.4bn and £6.3bn of investment respectively since 2010.

He continued: “With our continued focus on renewables – from our community energy strategy to our work on tidal and marine power – this is set to rise much further still.  Last year the Government agreed key terms for the first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C.”

The decision to approve the Hinkley nuclear plant was slammed by senior figures in the renewable energy industry, who described it as a “world record sell-out” and a “shocking decision”.

Davey also pointed out that the UK has Europe’s only two commercial scale Carbon and Capture Storage (CCS) projects.

In its latest report – The Global Status of CCS 2014 – the Global CCS Institute advised that policy support over the last five years has not been strong enough to launch the number of worldwide CCS projects anticipated at the start of the decade.

Wind power record

Davey’s speech follows new figures from the National Grid revealing that, throughout October, wind energy provided on average 12.3% of electricity demand, beating the October 2013 share of 8%.

On 20 October, wind energy provided a record 24% daily share of the UK’s electricity needs, beating August’s record of 22% and leading to a number of coal plants being taken offline as they were surplus to requirement.

The official statistics show that wind power generated more than nuclear for 11 full days in the month, with the longest period being between the 17 and 24 October, partly owing to Hurricane Gonzalo, which swept across the UK and helped wind turbines out-produce nuclear power plants on Tuesday, 21 October.

RenewableUK’s director of external affairs Jennifer Webber said: “These figures shine a light on the full extent of wind’s powerful performance over October; to beat nuclear for seven days straight, and 11 days overall in a month, is unprecedented. We saw August set new records for generation and October has followed hot on its heels”.

The news would appear to support analysis by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace International indicating that wind power capacity will hit 2,000GW and could supply up to 20% of the world’s electricity demand by 2030.

Lois Vallely

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