UK's renewable generation up by 20%, says REA

Electricity generated by the U.K.’s renewable energy sector has risen by 20% in the space of a year, according to a recent report conducted by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) in partnership with PwC.

The REA’s REview has shown that total electricity generation reached 64,404 GWh in 2014, up 20% on 2013’s 53,667 GWh, with the U.K.’s solar and wind industries playing a significant part in that overall increase.

The REA has also reported that jobs in the renewable energy industry grew 9% since 2013, particularly in the North West and East Midlands of England, London, and Scotland.

However, the REA has warned the industry not to rest on its laurels, stressing that this pace of renewable growth – 16% a year – is one of the steepest paths towards hitting 2020 renewable targets among EU member states. The U.K. is obliged to meet 15% of its energy needs from renewable source by 2020.

Solar PV is pulling its weight, at least, with Channel 4 news reporting that yesterday, May 13, was the best day yet for the U.K.’s solar generation output, with PV meeting 15% of all of the country’s energy needs.

The new Conservative government has imminent decisions to make on solar and other renewable subsidy schemes, including an impending FIT review and a pre-election pledge to end subsidies for wind power.

“We are delighted that renewable energy sources are becoming an ever greater contributor to the U.K.’s energy mix,” said Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the REA. “Today’s figures show excellent progress in a number of sectors, both in terms of generation and installed capacity.”

Skorupska added, however, that complacency must not be allowed to set in, warning that whenever technologies have had their support system removed, progress has either stalled or gone backwards.

“In light of the growth rate for renewables needed for the U.K. to meet its 2020 targets,” Skorupska continued, “it is vital that the new government demonstrates the necessary leadership and ambition to enable our industry to thrive.”

Ronan O’Regan, PwC’s director of renewables and clean tech, confirmed that 2014 was a record year for renewable investment, attracting £10 billion in capital. Solar, he added, was the big winner, drawing investment of £4.5 billion.

“Reaching the 2020 targets is estimated to require a further £50 billion of investment,” said O’Regan.