Huge rise in UK renewable energy but coal is still king

1st August 2014


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UK electricity generated from renewable sources in 2013 reached a record 14.9% - an increase of 30% on the previous year - but coal remains the biggest source of electricity, generating 36%.

The latest digest of UK energy statistics, published by Decc, also reveals that gas-powered electricity fell to 27% in 2013, while nuclear generation remained unchanged at 20%.

Investment in renewables continues to grow in the UK, largely due to government incentives, such as the renewable obligation certification scheme (ROCs) and feed-in tariff (FiT), which were introduced to help cut carbon emissions in line with legally-binding commitments.

Total UK electricity generated from renewables in 2103 increased from 11.3% to 14.9%, with offshore wind generation rising by 50% and onshore wind increasing by 40%. Both the offshore and onshore wind load factors – 37.5% and 27.9% respectively – exceeded or equalled that of gas (27.9%).

Launching the latest energy stats, energy secretary Ed Davey said investment in energy was beginning to pay off. “This massive investment in green energy is accelerating with 2013 a record year, with almost £8 billion invested across [a] range of renewable technologies. Having a strong UK renewable sector helps to reduce our foreign imports of energy, improving our energy security, as well as helping us tackle climate change and creating new hi-tech green jobs,” he said.

Total installed electrical generating capacity from renewables also incrased in 2013, mainly as a result of a 27% increase in onshore wind capacity and a 59% increase in solar photovoltaic capacity. In addition, bioenergy capacity increased by 27% due to new conversions of previously coal-fired capacity to biomass.

Despite the continued growth in home-based renewables, energy imports were up a further 2.3% on 2012 levels, with total import dependency now at 47%. Coal imports have risen largely due to lower international wholesale prices.

Final consumption of electricity was the lowest level since 1998 at 317.3 TWh. The domestic sector consumed the most at 113.5 TWh, followed by the service sector at 101.7 TWh, while the industrial sector consumed 98.0 TWh,

Energy consumption rose by 0.7% mainly due to the colder winter in 2013, but was down 0.3% on a temperature adjusted basis. Overall energy consumption continues to fall with total primary energy consumption declining by around 16% between 2004 and 2012.

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