UK Electricity From Renewables Overtakes Gas and Coal Power
2020 was a remarkable year because it was the first time in the UK that renewable electricity overtook fossil fuel-generated electricity. Renewables could remain the largest source of electricity in the future, having generated 43% of the UK’s electricity whereas fossil fuels provided 38.5%. Across the EU renewable energy outperformed fossil fuels also for the first time but this was greatly influenced by the collapse of the use of coal.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) presented two progress reports to the UK parliament which include cutting emissions to Net Zero and adapting to the climate risks facing the UK. These reports include more than 200 climate policy recommendations for greener energy. This blog post will include a support scheme for renewable energy and the sources as well as their percentages.
Support Schemes for Renewable Energy
Renewable energy in the UK has come a long way and to see it surpassing gas and coal power electricity has not been an easy feat. To allow the widespread of renewable energy several schemes that provided financial aid were put in place. These support schemes allow and encourage technological development and the widespread adoption of renewables which results in lower costs and economies of scale.
The Renewables Obligation (RO) is among the major support schemes for renewable energy in the UK for large-scale installations. It requires licensed electricity suppliers to source an ever-increasing amount of electricity from renewable sources.
The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) encourages the uptake of small-scale renewable electricity. FiTs allows those who generate electricity to be paid a tariff for the electricity they produce. The cost of this scheme is shared across all generators. These benefits are shared with the community and school installations.
Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) is aimed to promote and increase renewable electricity production across the EU. This scheme provides a common platform for electricity between member states to be shared. REGOs are certifications of how electricity has been produced from renewable sources. This scheme requires suppliers to inform their customers and other parties on their source of renewable electricity.
UK’s Renewable Electricity Sources
According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) latest energy trend reports, wind power generated 24.2% of the UK’s electricity which is more than half of the electricity produced from renewable power. 11.2% was from onshore wind and 13% was from offshore wind. The UK has taken advantage of wind power since it has high average wind speeds and the best conditions in Europe. The investments and installations made in offshore wind in the UK equal the capacity of the city of the world.
Biomass is sourced from living substances and materials such as animal manure, food waste and biodegradable waste. Bioenergy is power generated from biomass and burning wood pallets which recorded 12% of the UK’s electricity. However, concerns arise from the use of bioenergy as an energy source because it poses a high risk of negative climate and various environmental impacts. When compared to other forms of renewable energy, bioenergy is viewed as a much higher-risk form of renewable energy.
Marine, Wave, and Hydroelectricity
Hydroelectric power generated 2% of the UK’s renewable electricity which was unchanged when compared to the year before. Hydropower involves the use of water from the natural flow of rivers and water from storage dams. Marine and wave technologies are a new concept and they use the energy in the ocean to produce electricity. These technologies are undergoing innovations and in the year 2020, they made a significant contribution to renewable electricity generation.
Solar photovoltaics convert sun rays into energy and in recent years solar fields on lakes have increasingly gained ground. It is estimated that solar photovoltaics contributed 4% of renewable electricity and the latest trend in this sector is the use of solar panels that float on water which are made from SABIC materials. This enables them to stay cool and it makes them effective by generating more energy, also they minimize the use of land which is a valuable resource.
The future of renewable electricity looks bright with the government and other stakeholders promoting the use of green energy. To see renewable electricity has surpassed gas and coal power is an achievement that needs to be maintained for the rest of the century. The UK is nowhere prepared for a rise in global temperature and it is up to us to ensure that we avoid raising the levels of global warming. The above UK’s renewable electricity sources are the major electricity suppliers and with more technological innovations the sources of renewable electricity will only increase.
John Keohane is the owner of JK Services, an electrical contractor who has been specialising in solar energy for over a decade. JKS install solar panels and EV chargers to all size homes and businesses throughout the country.