Renewable installations by independent generators stalled in 2018 as cuts to government subsidies diverted investment towards gas peaking plants and batteries, a new report has revealed.

The analysis by Smartest Energy shows independent generators in the UK commissioned 329MW of renewables during the year, bringing the overall tally to 14.1GW.

According to the annual Energy Entrepreneurs report, this represents a “remarkable” tripling of capacity since 2012 when they accounted for just 4.7GW. Independent generators invested more than £3 billion in the sector over the same period, spending £158 million during the past year.

However, the amount of renewable capacity added in 2018 was significantly down on the more than 1GW installed in the previous 12 months. Faced with the closure of the feed-in tariff and renewables obligation schemes to new applicants, they have instead focused their efforts on peaking plants and batteries.

The report says 314MW of battery storage had already been installed by the end of 2018 and the pipeline of prospective projects more than doubled from 2.4GW to 4.9GW during the year. Meanwhile, existing independent generators spent nearly £37 million on new peaking plants with capacity market contracts for 2018.

Smartest Energy chief commercial officer Dave Cockshott said: “During the first phase of their contribution to the UK’s energy ambitions, energy entrepreneurs rapidly developed thousands of renewable generation projects.

“The need for more renewables still very much remains, but now that need is as part of a smarter energy mix which will in turn support further low-carbon generation in the future.

“To this end, network operators increasingly require flexible capacity in order to manage networks during peak periods, allowing energy entrepreneurs equipped with energy storage or peaking plant to provide the balancing and ancillary services that they need.

“A new phase for the sector is now underway and we are seeing the most innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs already diversifying into these new areas.”

Renewable capacity from independent generators

Source: Energy Entrepreneurs 2019, Smartest Energy