On-site energy generation produced £100m of electricity in 2015, report reveals

On-site energy generation projects across the UK have more than doubled in the past four years, with businesses producing almost £100m worth of electricity in 2015 alone, a new report from supplier SmartestEnergy has revealed.

The Energy Entrepreneurs Report, which tracks independent renewable energy generation across the UK, reveals that 155 new on-site energy generation projects were developed last year, with a combined capacity of 99MW. This figure boosted the total number of UK sites generating their own energy to 728, accounting for 13% of all renewables projects and 6% of capacity.


According to SmartestEnergy, ‘energy entrepreneurs’ outside of the traditional electricity supply sector invested £376m in more than 1000 commercial-scale projects last year, adding 2.4GW of new renewable energy capacity.

SmartestEnergy chief executive Robert Groves said: “Energy entrepreneurs are indispensable to Britain’s energy future, driving change towards a flexible, efficient, low-carbon power system. They are creating new jobs, improving our energy security, and helping to meet climate change targets, and there is evidence that rapid growth in renewables can bring down electricity prices.

Low-carbon transition

The increase in on-site generation reflects a growing presence in the energy market of independent renewable energy developers, which now supply 7.6% of Britain’s power demand with clean electricity. Last year, independents generated more than £1bn of electricity from a total 5,467 projects – enough to power the equivilant of 6.2 million households and the same environmental impact as taking 8.9 million cars off the road.

Groves added: “Traditional electricity supply companies are in no shape to deliver the change that is needed. The Big Six are suffering in this low-carbon transition – share prices and dividends are falling, companies are laying off staff and some are even breaking themselves up. These incumbents are slow moving, beset by problems, and lack funds for investment.

“By contrast, the energy entrepreneurs are small, nimble and innovative. They have attracted a global pool of capital to invest in Britain’s renewable capacity and are taking advantage of technologies like wind and solar which are rapidly coming down the cost curve. They are starting to invest in battery storage which will play a key role in our future energy system and offers exciting new business opportunities.”

Level playing field

The SmartestEnergy report also highlights an increase in independent solar generation of 83% in 2015, with 696 projects providing more than 2GW of capacity, despite numerous Government cuts to subsidies that have supported the growth of the solar sector.

Groves insisted that investor confidence must now be restored to ensure that renewable energy projects can continue to prosper. “Government must ensure that the right framework is in place to ensure continued investment in building our renewables capacity,” he said.

“It needs to restore confidence to the industry by providing stable policy and certainty. It should ensure that the capacity market allows all participants to compete on a level playing field and it should work with the industry to develop frameworks to encourage the roll out of energy storage and maximise its ability to accommodate the growing amount of renewables on the grid.”

Government subsidy cuts to the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme and feed-in tariff has resulted in a unstable period for the UK’s renewable energy sector. Earlier this week, analyst EY reported that the UK’s attractiveness as a destination for investment in renewable energy has reached an all-time low, due to this series of unexpected green policy U-turns and the on-going uncertainty surrounding the role of renewables in our energy mix.

SmartestEnergy is a sponsor of the edie Leaders Theatre at edie Live 2016. Register to attend the show here.

Onsite solutions at edie Live 2016

On-site sustainability solutions are one of the key topics to be discussed in depth at the edie Live 2016 exhibition at the NEC Birmingham next week (17-18 May). 

From the UK’s largest on-site solar installations to small-scale, single-site solutions, hear from those sustainability professionals that have already done the work and are making it happen for their business.

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George Ogleby

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