UK renewables reach record heights in first quarter
Renewable sources provided a record 22.3% of the UK's electricity in the first quarter of 2015, thanks to a boom in biomass production and large-scale solar installations.
Total renewable generation for the three months stood at 21.1TWh – a 15% year-on-year increase, according to figures released yesterday (25 June) by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Biomass showed the highest increase in both absolute and percentage change in generation, almost doubling from 2.2 TWh to 4.3 TWh.The uptick was driven largely by the conversion of a second unit at Drax Power Station from co-firing to dedicated biomass, although the sustainability of this type of generation has been questioned.
Solar generation also saw a 41% boost to 0.8TWh, thanks to the installation gold-rush in February and March, as companies scrambled to set up projects before subsidies closed for large-scale solar.
Winds of change
Wind power continued its steady growth, with onshore and offshore increasing generation by 4.7% and 6.3% respectively.
Onshore wind was the dominant technology in the sector, accounting for 33% of all output. Whether it will continue this success is up for debate, after Energy Secretary Amber Rudd curtailed subsidies for new projects earlier this month.
Commenting on the figures, the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) head of external affairs James Court warned that recent policy changes could undo recent success.
He said: ‘The growth this year show that where the government has given policy stability, our industry delivers. Our members are committed to driving down costs to achieve grid parity, but we can’t do that if the government increases risk.
“Biomass and solar have had an impressive year in deployment, and are delivering some of the most cost effective renewable power, and the renewable heat sector is showing solid deployment. This keeps the UK roughly on track for 2020 targets, but with the bulk of the work needing to happen in the next five years, we can’t afford any set-backs.”
North of the border, the DECC figures revealed that Scottish wind power had produced enough energy to power almost a million Scottish homes for a year, prompting calls from Scottish politicians for Amber Rudd to open talks with the industry.