UK renewable and nuclear energy production rose in 1998

Details of UK energy production and consumption for 1998 have been published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The renewable sector saw the greatest gain, with a 27% increase in the amount of electricity generated from renewables. Electricity from nuclear generation reached its highest ever level, 2% above that of 1997.

The 1999 Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics shows that crude oil and natural gas production also reached record levels. Meanwhile, production by coal companies decreased by 14½%.

The installed electrical capacity of combined heat and power (CHP) plants – more efficient than traditional gas-fired power stations – grew by 5%, bringing the amount of electricity generated by CHPs in 1998 to 6%.

In the renewable sector, the greatest increase came from wind-generated electricity at 33%. Generation from hydro sources increased by 27% and bio-fuels by 25%. In total, renewables accounted for 2.6% of electricity generated in 1998. In 1997, it was 2.1% and in 1993 it was 1.8%.

Discussing the rise in renewables’ generation, a DTI spokesperson emphasised that the target of 10% from renewable sources by 2010 is not an official one. “There is a nominal target of 10% by 2010,” the DTI spokesperson told edie, “but this isn’t a formally-adopted, ‘make-or-break’ target. It’s something to aim for.”

Despite the DTI’s hesitant approach to the 10% renewables target, the British Wind Energy Association is confident that the wind sector will continue to see strong growth. “Wind has been the fastest-growing sector in renewables for the past four years,” Alison Hill, communications manager for the association, told edie. “We’ve got the potential for a whole lot more and that’s even without going offshore.” Hill believes that annual increases above 1998’s 33% are possible.

Border Wind, the company behind the Blyth Harbour wind farm in Northumberland, will build an off-shore wind farm beginning in April 2000. Located one kilometre off the Blyth Harbour shore, the new farm should be operational by the end of May 2000.

Another important player in UK wind energy is Renewable Energy Systems (RES), based in St.Alban’s, Hertfordshire. RES’s most recent success has been the construction of a 1Mw turbine – a size of turbine that is not often built in the UK.

Eastern Generation, the UK’s third largest electricity generator, is also investing in the renewables sector. “They are adopting a portfolio of renewable energy,” says Hill. “And that’s a sensible business decision.”

In Scotland, National Wind Power is active and moving into the American wind energy sector.

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