UK renewables smash output records as wind capacity soars

The renewable energy industry was today celebrating as new figures revealed that it made its highest ever contribution to the UK’s electricity supply during the autumn, putting it within reach of the government’s target of generating 10 per cent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010.

The government’s Energy Statistics (PDF) released today show that renewables supplied 8.6 per cent of total electricity in the third quarter of the year.

The supply of wind, hydro and other forms of renewable energy increased 23.1 per cent compared to the same period last year as more projects came online. Meanwhile, wind energy alone saw its output rise 36.9 per cent year on year.

Trade association RenewableUK said that the figures represent the highest share of electricity generation ever provided by the renewables sector.

The increase came against a backdrop of decreased supply overall. Total electricity supplied in the third quarter of 2010 was 1.3 per cent lower than a year earlier, while final consumption of electricity fell by 1.9 per cent, according to preliminary figures.

A spokesman for RenewableUK told BusinessGreen that the UK could now meet its target of supplying 10 per cent of energy from renewables by the end of 2010 if the trend continues during the last three months of the year.

He added that it also puts the UK on track to meet its 2020 target of sourcing 15 per cent of energy from renewables.

“We are delighted because this shows that we as an industry were right all along in promoting the potential of this technology and advocating that wind can make a serious contribution to the UK’s electricity supply,” he said.

A spokeswoman from the Department for Energy and Climate Change said that the increase was a direct result of increased capacity and that the trend will continue as more projects come online.

“It is really good news in terms of energy supply. We think driving renewables is really important, not just in terms of limiting the effects of climate change but in ensuring the security of energy supplies,” she told BusinessGreen.

“We are very keen to get wind farms approved and get them built, although we cannot comment on individual projects.”

However, concerns remain across the renewables sector over the failure of the planning system to approve a greater proportion of projects, and fears are mounting that the reforms proposed in the government’s new localism bill could result in more projects being blocked as greater power is handed over to local councils.

The industry is also continuing to digest the government’s proposed electricity market reforms, which are expected to strengthen the investment case for renewable energy projects.

However, some developers remain concerned that the changes could lead to a degree of disruption as the government looks to change the current subsidy regime.

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