UK figures for the first quarter of 2013 have revealed a sharp rise in renewable energy power output compared to the same period last year. Both solar and wind power production has risen by nearly thirty per cent, marking a huge step in the right direction towards reducing carbon emissions.
The UK currently has an electricity mix of fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal), nuclear, and renewable energy. Renewable energy sources are mainly solar, wind, and hydropower, and production of these resources is reliant on UK weather conditions. Recent figures show that the share of the UK’s electricity mix provided by low-carbon power has risen by two per cent from those revealed during a similar period last year.
Weather Dependent Energy
The government’s recently released figures showing the increase in renewable energy levels have revealed that wind and solar capacity levels have increased but there has been a 32.1% fall in hydro generation due to lower levels of rainfall. An increasing number of UK households are installing solar panels, and the solar thermal market is demonstrating phenomenal growth. With the option to turn the sun’s energy into electricity, many homeowners have leapt at the opportunity to cut domestic bills as well as increase their incomes.
Similarly, there has been a steady increase in the number of wind turbines erected to create energy from the wind – the UK gets some of the most suitable weather conditions for these systems to work. The costs of setting up wind farms have decreased over the years and with the ground on which the turbines are positioned still being useful for agricultural purposes, more and more private landowners and farmers are taking advantage of government initiatives to set up wind farms. Offshore wind power is also on the increase in a bid to improve the UK’s ‘green record’.
Fissile or Fossil?
Nuclear generation has also contributed to this year’s strong performance within the renewables share of generation due to higher levels of availability, while the share from fossil fuels such as coal and gas fell by just under one per cent each. Temperatures during the first quarter of 2013 were 2.7 degrees lower than those during the same period in 2012, driving demand up for electric heating, but despite this the UK’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions have been successful.
Future figures may change due to some significant changes involving energy producers. The recently closed biomass plant at Tilbury B Power Station produced an increase in energy generation during the first six months of 2013, and was considered one of driving forces behind the rise in renewable energy output. Its closure could have an impact on future energy production. Also, energy giant EDF has recently reported an increase in carbon emissions due to a mounting dependence on coal-fired power. The company is confident that increased investments in renewables and plans to build more nuclear reactors will create a positive change to these high emissions.