UK invests £300m in independent renewables in 2013

The number of renewable energy projects in the UK has soared by 40% with almost £300m invested in commercial-scale, independent schemes last year.

Figures compiled by SmartestEnergy for this year’s Energy Entrepreneurs Report show that there are now 2,930 renewable energy projects of over 50kW capacity now in operation, independent of the Big Six energy firms.

The report shows 843 new projects came on supply in 2013 with an average cost of £353,000. The 40.4% increase in project numbers represents a 31.9% increase in capacity compared with last year’s Energy Entrepreneurs Report.

SmartestEnergy’s head of generation Iain Robertson said the report highlighted the growing economic contribution of the independent energy sector. “This year’s report really underlines just how important the independent renewables sector is becoming and the scale of investment being made by energy entrepreneurs,” he said.

“More than £1m was invested every working day in 2013 and the 843 new projects commissioned are now having a direct impact on the businesses, communities, landowners and developers behind them. Faced with steep rises in energy costs and concerns over security of supply, investing in renewable energy projects is a highly cost-effective way to save money and develop a new income stream.”

Community projects

Onshore wind represented the largest share of energy generation with 45% but the UK’s independent solar capacity was shown to have grown by a massive 150%. This comes after controversial plans by the government to cut financial support to large-scale solar farms. As reported by edie in May, the Department for Energy and Climate Change revealed plans to close the Renewables Obligation scheme as of April 2015 for solar farms with over 5MW capacity.


Independent energy projects by businesses, communities, farmers and landowners now represent a combined capacity of more than 6.2GW. The number of community owned projects grew by 29% and the farming sector saw the largest increases with project numbers up by 80%.

According to SmartestEnergy, the energy generated by independent projects is now enough to power 4.67m households, up 19% on 2012. Such projects are now capable of generating £997m worth of energy each year.

Analysis carried out by PwC reveals that £29.8bn was invested in all UK renewables between 2010 and 2013 including renewable electricity, renewable heat and renewable transport fuel production. £64.4bn is expected to be invested in renewables by 2020 in order to achieve Government projections for renewables.

REPORT: Energy Entrepreneurs 2014

Matt Field

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