The amount of green electricity generated and used in the UK has increased in the first three months of 2012.
In the first three months of 2011 the amount of electricity generated by renewables was 7.7% but this year it has risen to 11%. Sources of renewable energy include wind, solar and wave power.
The amount of energy generated from onshore wind farms has increased as has hydroelectricity and energy from biofuel plants. Britain’s target is for 15% of its energy to come from renewable energy by 2020, so this increase is significant.
There are concerns that there will be an energy shortage in the next few years, as old coal and nuclear power plants are shut down and no new power generation facilities built to replace them. It’s been argued that renewable energy wouldn’t be able to fill the gap.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said that 27% of the electricity generated in the first 3 months of this year was generated by gas. The UK average for gas generated electricity is 44% and this figure is the lowest for a number of years. Experts are blaming high wholesale gas prices for this drop in gas generated electricity and suppliers blamed wholesale gas prices for higher domestic and business gas tariffs.
The high price of gas meant energy providers turned to coal to generate electricity. The UK average is 29% but in the first three months of this year 42% of electricity was generated by coal. There was a slight drop in nuclear generated electricity down from 19 to 17%.
But the biggest increases came from renewable energy. Wind generation, onshore and offshore, increased by 50% while electricity from hydropower increased by 43% in the first quarter of the year.
A campaigner at Greenpeace, Joss Garman, said “Britain is now in prime position to become the Saudi Arabia of the global offshore wind industry. The cost of wind power is falling fast so if ministers don’t make the wrong decision over the next few months – and if they avoid a risky bet on a new dash for more gas burning – then we could all reap the benefits of a strong home-grown clean energy boom with stabilised energy bills, new jobs and industries, and reduced carbon emissions”.