Electricity generation from renewable sources shot up by 20% in 2012, government figures have indicated.
Total renewables accounted for 4.1% of energy consumption in 2012, according to the research, which is up from 3.8% in 2011.
Experts believe the increase is largely due to rises in electricity generation from wind farms – both onshore and offshore.
Renewables in the electricity mix
According to the report, primary energy production fell by 10.7%, with oil and gas production declining. These figures underline the importance of renewables when it comes to the UK’s electricity mix.
It was also revealed that, due to 2012’s cold weather, final energy consumption rose by 1.7%. However, taking the temperature into account consumption was actually down 0.7%, which continues the downward trend of the past eight years.
Capacity also shot up, with installed electrical generating capacity of renewable sources having risen by 27% in 2012. This was mainly due to the 27% increase in onshore wind capacity and 63% rise in offshore wind capacity, as well as solar photovoltaic capacity, which went up by 71%.
Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, commented: “These figures confirm the recent trends we have seen that show renewables, and especially wind, playing an ever-increasing role in our electricity generation. They come at the end of a busy period for wind, which has seen the largest offshore wind farm in the world opened at London Array, as well as a number of major onshore sites going live.
‘Remarkable progress’ being made
Smith added that “remarkable progress” has been made over the past few years, and described the latest figures as “a shot in the arm” for the renewable sector. With wind now generating around half of electricity from renewables, the sector is leading the charge in the race to decarbonise the market, Smith noted.
The expert continued: “These figures also show that as a country we are becoming increasingly dependent on expensive imported fossil fuels, with a rise to over 40% in the amount we depend on fossil fuels brought in from abroad. This yet again shows the need to continue to build on the success we have seen in renewables as a way of helping us achieve energy independence.”