Solar Drives 50% Rise in South West Renewable Electricity

 A report launched today by independent renewable energy experts Regen SW reveals that the total capacity of renewable electricity in the south west has grown by almost 50 per cent in the past 12 months – from 714 MW in 2012 to more than 1 GW now – and that the region now generates 7.3 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.

The “South West Renewable Energy Progress Report”, produced annually since 2004, states that the growth has occurred mainly due to the installation of:

•    251 MW of solar PV (200 MW from megawatt scale solar farms)
•    39 MW from biomass
•    20 MW from heat pumps
•    13 MW from anaerobic digestion (7.2 MW electricity and 5.8 MW heat)
•    6 MW from energy from waste
•    5.5 MW from onshore wind

Despite this strong growth though, the south west is not on track to meet the government target of deriving 15 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 and risks missing out on a huge economic opportunity to build a world-leading renewables industry.

“This year’s progress report is encouraging,” said Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW. “However, it should be just the start. If we continue at our current pace we will finish a long way off our 2020 target. This means we’ll be missing out the chance to create 34,000 high-value new jobs in the sector, the opportunity to become less reliant on uncertain oversees supplies of fossil fuels, and the opportunity of using our local renewable energy resources to generate income and fuel security for local communities.”

The progress report includes a full breakdown of all the region’s renewable energy technologies, details of current initiatives to drive forward the sector, and an analysis of exactly what the south west must do to get on track to meet government targets. It follows Regen’s recently-launched “South West Renewable Energy Manifesto” which commits the region to building a world-leading industry delivering 34,000 jobs.

“A key conclusion of our analysis is that we need a mix of all renewables’ technologies,” added Merlin. “While solar PV and onshore wind are currently our best performers, the deployment of offshore wind in the Bristol Channel and off the Dorset coast has the potential to make the largest contribution to the amount of renewable energy we generate, and wave and tidal energy have an exciting future.”

To continue to drive forward the sector, Regen believes that emphasis must be placed on:

•    successful delivery of government policies including the Electricity Market Reform and Green Deal to provide a consistent and coherent policy framework
•    local plans providing a clear framework for renewable energy development
•    a new model of development putting local communities at the heart of new projects
•    investment in the local grid and for the roll out of new ‘smart’ technology
•    Local Enterprise Partnerships and City Deals backing sustainable energy as a key priority sector
•    technology development between our universities and businesses


Merlin added: “The past last year has shown some of the key challenges to scaling up renewable energy including policy uncertainty, grid capacity and engaging communities positively in new developments. To build a world-leading industry we need to learn the lessons from our progress this year.”

County-by county results

•    Devon has a total renewable energy capacity of 301 MW
•    Cornwall and the IoS has a total renewable energy capacity of 293 MW
•    Somerset has a total renewable energy capacity of 102 MW
•    Dorset has a total renewable energy capacity of 98 MW
•    Wiltshire has a total renewable energy capacity of 96 MW
•    Former Avon has a total renewable energy capacity of 87 MW
•    Gloucestershire has a total renewable energy capacity of 66 MW

The 2013 South West Renewable Energy Progress Report includes a breakdown of the progress made by individual counties and local authorities. To read the full document visit http://www.regensw.co.uk/projects/support-for-decision-makers/annual-survey.

Tags: Solar Industry News, e-lec.org