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UK renewables grow at record pace

February 25th, 2015 | 11:32 am

The growth of renewable energy over the past year has been inspiring to see, particularly considering the backdrop of political uncertainty that the industry has faced. Renewables now contributes over 15% of the total UK energy mix and most notably solar, renewable heat and wind power have contributed the most to this increase.

Solar will soon be hitting 5GW of deployment, double the installed capacity from 1 year ago. The Solar Trade Association estimates this is enough to supply electricity to 1.5 million homes. Of this capacity, roughly half is from large scale solar farms registered under the Renewables Obligation (RO), with the remainder registered under the FiT scheme. The large concentration of FiT schemes should provide encouragement that the closure of the RO to solar this year will not reduce deployment in the sector overall.

Renewable heating technology has also hit a significant milestone with 1GW of capacity now accredited under the non-domestic RHI scheme. Much of this capacity comes from small biomass heating systems less than 200kW in size. Agriculture, accommodation and wood product manufacturing sectors account for 74% of all renewable heat installations. This is unsurprising given the large heat demand for these types of businesses who often have convenient access to fuel supply, particularly those in agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

Despite political controversy and significant barriers to obtaining planning consent, wind has provided increasing amounts of energy for the country. Figures released by National Grid have shown that wind power output during 2014 rose 15% to 24,500GWh, with Business Green (the environmental news website) estimating that this is enough to power 25% of British homes.

These figures show that amidst a backdrop of political uncertainty and policy changes which peppered 2014, renewable energy continued to flourish and investor confidence did not wane. As we move into the next election, it is important that a stable policy climate is cultivated which allows the industry to maintain momentum; bringing the UK closer to a more secure energy future.

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