Renewable energy milestones reported in UK and California

The share of renewable energy generation in the U.S. state of California and the whole of the U.K. reached record levels last year, according to recent data.

California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has revealed this week that it sourced 22.5% of its power from eligible renewable energy resources last year, pushing it above 20% for the first time ever and ensuring the utility is on track to meet the state’s 2020 energy goals.

Indeed, PG&E is already ahead of the curve by 2.5 percentage points, signing 155 contracts for renewable energy since targets were first introduced in 2002.

"PG&E has the cleanest energy portfolio among American utilities," said PG&E senior VP for energy supply, John Conway. "More than 55% of our electricity comes from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources. Through our own clean energy resources and PPAs for solar, wind and other renewable fuels, we are working to grow our clean energy portfolio and do so in a way that is affordable for our customers."

Statewide, Figures from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) show that California boasts the highest cumulative capacity of installed solar PV of any state, with 5.23 GW. Combined with wind and thermal power, California’s renewable energy generation capacity exceeds 15 GW.

U.K. enjoying renewable revolution

Similarly bullish words were spoken across the Atlantic in the U.K. this week too as figures from the Renewable Energy Association (REA) revealed that 13.8% of the country’s power was generated from renewable sources last year, up 3% from 2012.

"More than one in eight U.K. homes is now powered from clean renewable sources, at an extra cost to the typical household of less than one pound ($1.66) per week," said REA chief executive, Nina Skorupska. "Renewable power projects are helping reduce the U.K.’s contribution to climate change, while also limiting our dependence on imports and creating jobs in the new green economy.

"Additionally, households installing solar panels are already seeing their bills come down thanks to the FIT."

According to wind power body RenewableUK, onshore wind capacity in the U.K. grew by 36% last year, generating 16.5 TWh of power, while offshore wind generated 10.9 TWh – a 46% increase. Solar’s output was lower, at 2 TWh, but the sector grew faster than all others, at a rate of 70% compared to 2012.

So although wind power is still the dominant source of renewable energy in the U.K., solar PV has enjoyed rapid growth in the past 12 months, with many leading multinational solar companies eyeing the British market as a potentially profitable portion of their business in 2014 and beyond.