Renewable energy generation hit a new record level last year on the back of a fresh surge in capacity and high wind speeds.
The Energy Trends report, published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department last week shows that overall renewable generation increased from 83.2 TWh in 2016 to 98.9 TWh in 2017, an 18.8 per cent jump.
The report says the key factors for the increased generation were a combination of increased capacity and higher wind speeds compared to the previous year.
Accounting for variable weather, renewables comprised a record 28.1 per cent of gross electricity consumption, up 3.5 per cent compared to 2016’s share.
Last year saw renewables’ share of electricity generation increase by 4.9 per cent to 29.4 per cent. The increase reflected higher renewable generation and a 4.9 per cent drop in overall electricity generation compared to the previous year. Wind accounted for a record 15 per cent of the UK’s entire electricity demand in 2017, up from 11 per cent in 2016.
Renewable electricity capacity increased by 13.3 per cent during the year.
Onshore generation increased by 37 per cent from 21.0 TWh in 2016 to a record 28.7 TWh. And in the final quarter of the year, generation from offshore wind farms increased by 76 per cent from 4.4 TWh to 7.8 TWh with several large sites opening or continuing to expand during the year.
However owever bioenergy, which increased by 5.9 per cent from 30 TWh in 2016 to a record 31.8 TWh, remained the largest single source of renewable electricity, accounting for 32 per cent of the total generated.
The growth in solar PV capacity slackened from 2.4 GW during 2016 to 0.9 GW last year with the majority of the increase coming from Renewables Obligation accredited sites ahead of the scheme’s final closure at the end of the final quarter.
Responding to the latest figures, Renewable UK’s executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “These official figures confirm that it’s been another record-breaking year for wind energy, which generated 15 per cent of the UK’s electricity in 2017. The move to a smart, renewables-led energy system is well underway.
“The cost of new offshore wind halved in 2017 and onshore wind is already the cheapest of any new power source in the UK. So it’s vital that new onshore wind should be allowed to compete in the market for sake the consumers.”
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, highlighted figures showing a 31 per cent year on year increase in electricity transfers to England and Scotland which generated a quarter of all UK renewable electricity last year.
She said: “Almost all (95 per cent) of the increase in Scotland’s renewable energy capacity was due to new onshore wind capacity, and further increases are expected in coming years as the country’s burgeoning offshore wind sector begins to generate clean power.
“Onshore wind is our cheapest form of new electricity generation and is enjoying record support from the public, but remains largely unable to compete in new power auctions.
“That position is preventing UK consumers from taking advantage of the cost and carbon savings which onshore wind can provide, and we’re working hard to ensure future projects are able to find a way to sell the power they could produce.”