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Percentage on a 2009 Renewable Energy Directive basis. (Normalised). Source Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, DUKES 2016 Chapter 6: Renewable sources of energy. Data for 2016, 2017 provisonal. Renewable energy in the United Kingdom can be divided into the generation of renewable electricity, the generation of renewable heat and renewable energy use in the transport sector.
From the mid-1990s began to contribute to the electricity generated in the , adding to a small generating capacity. This has been surpassed by wind power schemes, for which the UK has large potential resources.
Interest in renewable energy in the UK has increased in recent years due to new UK and EU targets for reductions in carbon emissions and the promotion of renewable electricity power generation through commercial incentives such as the and and the promotion of renewable heat through the . Under the the UK's has a 15% target for reduction in total energy consumption by 2020. In 2017 renewable production generated: • 27.9% of total electricity • 7.7% of total heat energy • 4.6% of total transport energy Renewable heat energy, in the form of biofuels, dates back to 415,000 in the UK.
Uranium series dating and give evidence to the use of wood fires at the site of Beeches Pit, . Waterwheel technology was imported to the country by the Romans, with sites in Ikenham and Willowford in England being from the 2nd century AD. At the time of the compilation of the (1086), there were 5,624 watermills in alone, only 2% of which have not been located by modern archaeological surveys.
Later research estimates a less conservative number of 6,082, and it has been pointed out that this should be considered a minimum as the northern reaches of England were never properly recorded.
In 1300, this number had risen to between 10,000 and 15,000. Windmills first appeared in Europe during the . The earliest certain reference to a windmill in Europe (assumed to have been of the vertical type) dates from 1185, in the former village of Weedley in Yorkshire which was located at the southern tip of the overlooking the .
The first electricity-generating wind turbine was a battery charging machine installed in July 1887 by Scottish academic to light his holiday home in , Scotland. In 1878 the world's first hydroelectric power scheme was developed at in , by . It was used to power a single in his art gallery. However, almost all electricity generation thereafter was based on burning coal.
In 1964 coal accounted for 88% of electricity generation, and oil was 11%. The remainder was mostly supplied by hydroelectric power, which continued to grow its share of electricity generation as coal struggled to meet demand.
The world's third power station, the in , , became fully operational in 1967. The Central Electricity Generating Board attempted to experiment with wind energy on the Llŷn Peninsula in Wales during the 1950s, but this was shelved after local opposition. Renewable energy experienced a turning point in the 1970s with the , , growing environmentalism and wind energy development in the exerting pressure on the government. In 1974, the Central Policy Review Staff made the recommendation that ‘the first stage of a full technical and economic appraisal of harnessing wave power for electricity generation should be put in hand at once.’ Wave power was seen to be the future of the nation's energy policy, and solar, wind, and tidal schemes were dismissed as 'impractical'.
Nevertheless, an alternative energy research centre was opened in Harwell, although it was criticised for favouring nuclear power. By 1978, four wave energy generator prototypes had been designed which were later deemed too expensive. The Wave Energy Programme closed in the same year. During this period, there was a large increase in installations of to provide hot water. In 1986, Southampton began pumping heat from the geothermal borehole through a district heating network.
Over the years, several combined heat and power (CHP) engines and backup boilers for heating have been added, along with absorption chillers and backupvapour compression machines for cooling.
In 1987 a 3.7MW demonstration wind turbine on began supplying electricity to homes, the largest in Britain at the time. Privatisation of the energy sector in 1989 caused direct governmental research funding to cease. Two years later the UK's first onshore windfarm was opened in . The farm consists of 10 turbines and produces enough energy for 2,700 homes. This was followed by the UK's first offshore windfarm in , Wales.
The share of renewables in the country's electricity generation has risen from below 2% in 1990 to 14.9% in 2013, helped by subsidy and falling costs. Introduced on 1 April 2002, the requires all electricity suppliers who supply electricity to end consumers to supply a set portion of their electricity from eligible renewables sources; a proportion that will increase each year until 2015 from a 3% requirement in 2002-2003, via 10.4% in 2010-2012 up to 15.4% by 2015-2016.
The UK Government announced in the 2006 Energy Review an additional target of 20% by 2020-21. For each eligible megawatt hour of renewable energy generated, a tradable certificate called a (ROC) is issued by .
In 2007, the United Kingdom Government agreed to an overall European Union target of generating 20% of the European Union's energy supply from renewable sources by 2020. Each European Union member state was given its own allocated target; for the United Kingdom it is 15%.
This was formalised in January 2009 with the passage of the EU . As renewable heat and fuel production in the United Kingdom are at extremely low bases, estimates that this will require 35–40% of the United Kingdom's electricity to be generated from renewable sources by that date, to be met largely by 33–35 GW of installed wind capacity.
The 2008 Climate Change Act consists of a commitment to reducing net Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 80% by 2050 (on 1990 levels) and an intermediate target reduction of 26% by 2020. The is UK government policy, launched by the on 1 October 2012. It permits loans for energy saving measures for properties in Great Britain to enable consumers to benefit from energy efficient improvements to their home. The total of all renewable electricity sources provided for 14.9% of the electricity generated in the United Kingdom in 2013, reaching 53.7 TWh of electricity generated.
In the second quarter of 2015, renewable electricity generation exceeded 25% and coal generation for the first time.
Renewable energy contributions to meeting the UK's 15% target reduction in total energy consumption by 2020, in accordance with the , totalled 5.2% in 2013 as measured in accordance with the methodology set out in the Directive. By 2016 provisional calculations show that the figure had risen again to 8.3 per cent of energy consumption (all sources) coming from renewable sources in 2015.
In June 2017 renewables plus nuclear generated more UK power than gas and coal together for the first time. Britain has the fourth greenest power generation in Europe and the seventh worldwide. In 2017 new offshore wind power became cheaper than new nuclear power for the first time.
The UK is still heavily dependent on gas and vulnerable to fluctuations in world gas prices. Estimated levelised costs (pence/kWh) of low-carbon electricity generation technologies Technology forecast made in 2010 forecast made in 2016 2011 estimate 2040 central projection 2020 estimate 2025 estimate River hydro (best locations) 6.9 5 Hydro 8.0 8.0 Onshore wind 8.3 5.5 6.3 6.1 Nuclear 9.6 6 - 9.5 with 10.0 10 - 11.0 Wood / Biomass 10.3 7.5 8.7 - Geothermal 15.9 9 Offshore wind 16.9 8.5 9.2 8.6 17.1 11 Tidal stream 29.3 13 - 32.8 Solar PV 34.3 8 6.7 6.3 Tidal barrage 51.8 22 For comparison, CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) without carbon capture or carbon costs had an estimated cost in 2020 of 4.7p/kWh (£47/MWh).
Offshore wind prices dropped far faster than the forecasts predicted, and in 2017 two offshore wind farm bids were made at a cost of 5.75p/kWh (£57.50/MWh) for construction by 2022–23. Strike prices The "strike price" forms the basis of the between the 'generator and the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC), a government-owned company' and guarantees the price per MWh paid to the electricity producer.
It is not the same as the (LCOE) which is a first order estimate of the average cost the producer must receive to break-even. Low-carbon generation sources have agreed "strike prices" in the range £50-£79.23/MWh for photovoltaic, £80/MWh for energy from waste, £79.23-£82.5/MWh for onshore wind, and £114.39-£119.89/MWh for offshore wind and conversion technologies (all expressed in 2012 prices).
These prices are indexed to inflation. With new interconnectors, specifically the ongoing construction of the is expected to finish in 2020 after which the UK will get 1.4 GW of access to less expensive sources in the south Norway bidding area (NO2) of .
Similarly, is expected to start operations in 2022, after which the UK will get another 1.4 GW of access to the less expensive west Denmark bidding area (DK1) of Nord Pool Spot. Main article: Wind power delivers a growing fraction of the and at the beginning of January 2015, wind power in the United Kingdom consisted of 6,546 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of just under 12 : 7,950 of onshore capacity and 4,049 megawatts of offshore capacity.
The United Kingdom is ranked as the world's sixth largest producer of wind power, having overtaken France and Italy in 2012. Polling of public opinion consistently shows strong support for wind power in the UK, with nearly three quarters of the population agreeing with its use, even for people living near onshore wind turbines.
Wind power is expected to continue growing in the UK for the foreseeable future, estimates that more than 2 GW of capacity will be deployed per year for the next five years. Within the UK, wind power is the second largest source of renewable energy after .
In 2016 is the UK's largest windfarm operator with stakes in planned or existing projects able to produce 5 GW wind energy. Dong Energy's chief executive has confirmed plans to sell company's oil and gas division. 2010 saw the completion of some significant projects in the UK wind industry with the , and offshore wind farms coming on stream.
Over 1.1 GW of new wind power capacity was brought online during 2010, a 3% increase on 2009. There was a 38% drop in onshore installations to 503 MW compared with 815 MW in 2009 but there was a 230% increase in offshore installations with 653 MW installed (compared with 285 MW in 2009). The wave power device Due to the location of the UK, the country has great potential for generating electricity from and . To date, wave and tidal power have received very little money for development and consequently have not yet been exploited on a significant commercial basis due to doubts over their economic viability in the UK.
The European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney operates a grid connected wave power scheme at Billia Croo outside Stromness and a grid connected tidal test side in a narrow channel between the Westray Firth and Stronsay Firth.
Funding for the UK's first was announced by then in February 2007. It will be the world's largest, with a capacity of 3 MW generated by four machines and a cost of over 4 million . In the south of Scotland, investigations have taken place into a scheme involving the construction of a Solway Barage, possibly located south of . A project to harness , using the PB150 has been completed by in and is under development off Cornwall at .
Main article: and () has already been exploited in some areas. In 2004 it provided 129.3 GW·h (up 690% from 1990 levels), and was the UK's leading renewable energy source, representing 39.4% of all renewable energy produced (including hydro). The UK has committed to a target of 10.3% of renewable energy in transport to comply with the of the European Union but has to meet this target. Other can provide a close-to-carbon-neutral energy source, if locally grown.
In and , the production of biofuels for export has in some cases resulted in significant ecological damage, including the clearing of . In 2004 biofuels provided 105.9 GW·h, 38% of it .
This represented an increase of 500% from 1990. Main article: At the end of 2011, there were 230,000 solar power projects in the United Kingdom, with a total installed generating capacity of 750 (MW). By February 2012 the installed capacity had reached 1,000 MW. use has increased very rapidly in recent years, albeit from a small base, as a result of reductions in the cost of (PV) panels, and the introduction of a (FIT) subsidy in April 2010.
In 2012, the government said that 4 million homes across the UK will be powered by the sun within eight years, representing 22,000 MW of installed solar power capacity by 2020. The lower reservoir, a 1,800 MW pumped-storage hydroelectric scheme, in north Wales, and the largest hydroelectric power station in the UK As of 2012, stations in the United Kingdom accounted for 1.67 GW of installed electrical generating capacity, being 1.9% of the UK's total generating capacity and 14% of UK's generating capacity.
Annual electricity production from such schemes is approximately 5,700 GWh, being about 1.5% of the UK's total electricity production. There are also power stations in the UK. These power stations are net consumers of electrical energy however they contribute to balancing the grid, which can facilitate renewable generation elsewhere, for example by 'soaking up' surplus renewable output at off-peak times and release the energy when it is required.
Main article: Investigations into the exploitation of , prompted by the , were abandoned as fuel prices fell. [ ] Only one scheme is operational, in .
[ ] In 2009 planning permission was granted for a geothermal scheme near , , but funding was withdrawn and as of August 2017 there has been no further progress.
In November 2018, drilling started for a plant planning permission for a commercial-scale geothermal power plant on the United Downs industrial estate near by . The plant will produce 3MW of renewable electricity. In December 2010, in Cornwall was given permission to build a Hot Rock Geothermal Plant. Drilling was planned to start in 2011, but as of May 2018, funding is still being sought.
technologies are seen as having considerable potential by the Government. However, the microgeneration strategy launched in March 2006 was seen as a disappointment by many commentators.
Microgeneration involves the local production of electricity by homes and businesses from low-energy sources including small scale , and installations.
The is expected to boost the number of microgeneration installations, however, funding for grants under the is proving insufficient to meet demand with funds for March 2007 being spent in 75 minutes. , pioneered by Borough Council, provide an integrated approach to using cogeneration, renewables and other technologies to provide sustainable energy supplies to an urban community.
It is expected that the same approach will be developed in other towns and cities, including . based in are active in developing community-owned and led initiatives in . An energy positive house was built in Wales for £125,000 in July 2015. It is expected to generate £175 in electricity export for each £100 spent on electricity.
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The Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics ( DUKES) is the annual energy statistics publication produced by BEIS. It provides a detailed and comprehensive picture on the production and consumption of individual fuels and of energy as a whole. Data tools Beta releases of several data tools are now online.
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