New figures show that 19.4% of all the UK’s electricity mix in the first quarter of this year was generated from renewable energy sources, compared to 12.4% for the same period in the previous year. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says the primary reason for the increase was improved performance and greater capacity from onshore and offshore wind power.
Total renewable electricity generation was a record 18.1 terawatt hours in the first quarter of 2014, compared to 12.7 terawatt hours the previous year, an increase of 43%. This is enough to power 15.1 7 million homes for the quarter. Coal, gas and nuclear production all fell in the same period.
Onshore wind showed the highest absolute increase in generation, increasing by 62% to 6.6 terawatt hours, with offshore wind increasing by 53% to 4.4 terawatt hours. This made onshore wind the largest source of renewable electricity, with the technology providing 7.2% of all electricity across the UK. The combined total for onshore and offshore wind was nearly 12% of all electricity. The increase was partially due to increases in installed capacity, but also record high performance factors (load factors) of 40.4% for onshore wind and 54.3% for offshore wind. In addition, wave and tidal production increased 77%.
The paper also confirms previously released statistics for 2013, once again showing record performance for renewables across the year, led by onshore wind. However, the document does confirm that progress towards the overall energy target, including heat and transport, was below the interim target that the government set out for 2013, highlighting the need to keep investing in renewable electricity – including onshore wind.
RenewableUK’s Director of External Affairs Jennifer Webber said: “Once again, wind delivered strongly for the UK in the first quarter of the year – when we need power most - providing nearly 12% of all our electricity. At a time when some politicians were finalising their plans to rule out any future support for onshore wind, it was quietly generating enough electricity for the equivalent of over 5 and a half million homes. Offshore wind also made a significant contribution to getting us off the hook of fossil fuels and reducing our dependence imported energy.
Onshore wind is delivering today, and it’s deeply illogical to talk about limiting its potential. Without the strong performance of wind last year, the government would have been even further behind its energy targets. That’s why we need to ensure that there’s continued investment in both onshore and offshore wind moving forward.”
The statistics come the day after RenewableUK announced its 2015 General Election Manifesto which includes a pledge for onshore wind to be the cheapest form of new generation by 2020, with a lower price point than new gas, nuclear or other renewables – as long as the next government is supportive. The Association announced the formation of a cost-cutting taskforce to highlight the initiatives needed to ensure this happens.
Commenting on this, Ms Webber said: “We’ve shown this week that with the right policy support by 2020 the cheapest way to generate new electricity, to replace all the older power stations that are closing down, will be onshore wind. It’s time for all politicians to recognise the role that onshore wind is playing in our electricity provision and security of supply - and give it their support. Otherwise we’re signing up future consumers to a higher cost future, in hock to foreign powers for our electricity.”