Renewable energy generation hit new heights in the first quarter of 2012, rising by almost 40 per cent on the same period last year, according to official figures.
The Government latest 'Energy Trends and Quarterly Energy Prices
’ statistics show that renewable electricity generation
hit 11.1 terrawatt hours (TWh), an increase of 39 per cent on the 8.0 TWh in the first quarter of 2011. The jump helped renewables
’ share of electricity generation rise from 7.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2011 to 11.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.
Total electricity generated in the first quarter of 2012 was 3.4 per cent lower than a year earlier, while energy consumption fell by 1.1 per cent, when adjusted to take into account weather differences.
Increase in coal-generated electricity
But the same period also saw a big rise in generation from carbon-intensive coal, up more than 19 per cent, bringing its total share of electricity generation to 42 per cent. Gas accounted for 27 per cent, a fall of 30 per cent on the same period last year, brought on by high gas prices, whilst nuclear generation accounted for 17 per cent, a drop of more than 11 per cent on the same period last year, partly due to decommissioning.
Wind and hydro see biggest increases
Onshore and offshore wind led the way in terms renewable energy generation, up 51 per cent and 49.8 per cent respectively on the same period last year. There were increases across all renewables, though, including hydro, which saw the third biggest surge (43.5 per cent) due to an increase in rainfall, followed by bioenergy, which rose 21 per cent due in part to the Tilbury B power plant being converted to dedicated biomass.
Renewable electricity capacity rose by 36.1 per cent to 13 gigawatts.
Energy Minister Charles Hendry welcomed the figures claiming they were evidence the UK was the right place to invest in green energy.
"Today’s statistics show a clear increase on the first quarter of last year across all renewables – with rises in wind, hydro, solar and bioenergy generation.
"Alongside a 36 per cent increase in renewables capacity in the last 12 months, this shows that the UK is powering forward on clean and secure energy and is clearly a very attractive place to invest."
Renewable energy consumption in 2011
The Department of Energy and Climate Change also published figures for the first time today that showed renewables provisionally accounted for 3.8 per cent of energy consumption during 2011, an increase of 0.6 percentage points from the 2010 position of 3.2 per cent. A DECC spokesperson said the figures showed that the UK was on track to meet or exceed its target under the Renewable Energy Directive for renewables to make up 15 per cent of the total energy consumed in the UK by 2020.
"As set out in the Government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap, [renewables will see] a sharper rise in trajectory in the latter part of the decade and the interim expectation is to reach 4.04 per cent [by end of 2012]. We are on track to meet that and the long-term target," he said.
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