New stats show why Tories shouldn't shoot the lion of the renewable energy sector
30 July 2015
RenewableUK, the wind and marine energy trade association, says new Government statistics released today show that onshore and offshore wind energy is playing a crucial role in securing clean energy supplies for British homes, offices and factories.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has published its key annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics covering 2014. Electricity generated from renewable sources increased by 21% in 2014 compared to the previous year, and accounted for 19.1% of total UK electricity generation (up from 14.9% in 2013).
DECC describes onshore wind as “the leading individual technology for the generation of electricity from renewable sources during 2014”, supplying 29% of the total, while offshore wind generated a further 21%, making a total of 50% of renewable electricity supplied by wind.
9.5% of the UK’s electricity was generated by onshore and offshore wind in 2014: 5.5% from onshore wind and 4% from offshore wind, saving more than 13 million tonnes of carbon emissions last year.
Offshore wind generation increased by 17%, and onshore wind generation grew by 10%. The installed capacity of renewables increased by 24% (to 24.6 gigawatts) in 2014, partly due to a 13% growth in onshore wind capacity and a 22% increase in offshore wind capacity. Wind powered the equivalent of more than 7.6 million British homes last year.
RenewableUK’s Director of Policy Dr Gordon Edge said: “Onshore and offshore wind is delivering the lion’s share of the clean electricity we need to keep the UK powered up. But, when it comes to onshore wind, the Government is lining up this lion to be shot.
“Two-thirds of the public don’t want the onshore wind industry to be killed off –and they’ve said so in every Government opinion poll over the last three years. A clear majority are expressing their support for our most cost-effective technology which can generate significant quantities of clean electricity. The case for supporting wind, onshore and offshore, is backed up by today’s excellent generation statistics as evidence of good progress.
“In the face of this evidence, many will ask why the renewable energy sector has been bombarded by a series of punitive Government announcements ever since it took office, including scattergun retrospective changes which will force currently viable energy projects into the red.
“We can only hope that today’s statistics will help to focus minds and make the Government think again, so that they can come up with a balanced energy policy that includes encouraging investment in renewables rather than driving business away from the UK.”
7% of the UK’s total energy supply (electricity, heat and fuel for transport) came from renewables – up from 5.6% in 2013. The UK needs to meet a legally binding target of 15% of all energy from renewables by 2020.
The overall “load factor” for onshore wind was 26.4%, while offshore wind’s load factor was 37.7%, which DECC’s publication notes was higher than the 30.5% load factor for CCGT (gas) power stations in 2014.
- DECC’s Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2015 (covering calendar year 2014)
It notes that: “In 2014, there was a further switch in the main sources of electricity generation away from the fossil fuels of coal and gas to more low carbon generation. Generation from coal fell by 36%, as a number of plants closed or switched to burning biomass; gas rose by 5.1%, nuclear output fell by 9.7% with renewables up by 21%.
- The load factor is the actual output from a generator expressed as a percentage of its maximum possible output in a year. The figures quoted are on an “unchanged configuration” basis, i.e. the load factor for projects which were up and running for the whole of 2014, rather than projects which went operational during the year and thus for only part of it.
- The Department of Energy and Climate Change public attitudes tracking survey: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/public-attitudes-tracking-survey