Rapid growth but region still not on track to meet renewable energy targets
A major report, published today by independent renewable energy experts Regen SW, reveals that we now generate enough renewable electricity in the south west to power over one quarter of all homes. Renewable electricity capacity in the south west has grown by 37 per cent in the past 12 months to nearly 1.2 GW – and the region now generates 8.3 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources. (Bar chart 4 attached).
The "South West Renewable Energy Progress Report", produced annually since 2004, shows the south west leads the way in small and community scale renewables. The south west has 21% of the projects supported by the government's Feed in Tariff, more than any other UK region, and 14% of the Renewable Heat Incentive projects, second only to Scotland.
The key areas of growth have been:
∑ 270 MW of solar PV (Over 167 MW from megawatt scale solar farms) (solar PV graph attached)
∑ 68 MW of biomass (biomass graph attached)
∑ 23 MW from onshore wind (onshore wind graph attached)
Despite this strong growth, the south west is not on track to meet the government target of driving 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. (Page 8 2020 targets graph attached)
"This year's progress report is encouraging," said Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW. "However, it should be just the start. With 70 per cent of all investment in energy globally predicted to be in renewables, our success in this market is critical. By meeting our renewables targets we could create 34,000 high-value jobs, become less reliant on uncertain oversees supplied fossil fuels, and use our local renewable energy resources to generate income and fuel security for local communities." (jobs graphic attached)
The report concludes that whilst the foundation stone for renewables is a clear and consistent government policy framework, there is also much more can be done locally to:
∑ tackle barriers such as the capacity of our electricity grid and ensuring clear planning rules;
∑ enable commercial deployment of new technologies like offshore wind, wave and tidal energy;
∑ support local businesses to become leaders in the growing international renewables sector; and
∑ put local communities at the heart of all new projects.
Merlin continued "A key conclusion of our analysis is that we need to take more responsibility locally for making the most of the excellent renewable energy resources we have: putting local communities at the heart of developments; and supporting local companies to compete for work."
"We also need a mix of all renewables' technologies," added Merlin. "While solar PV, onshore wind and biomass are currently our best performers, the deployment of offshore wind off the Dorset coast has the potential to make the largest contribution to the amount of renewable energy we generate, wave and tidal energy have an exciting future."
County-by county results (geographic spread of renewable energy capacity attached)
∑ Devon has a total renewable energy capacity of 380 MW
∑ Cornwall and the IoS has a total renewable energy capacity of 374 MW
∑ Somerset has a total renewable energy capacity of 198 MW
∑ Wiltshire has a total renewable energy capacity of 157 MW
∑ Dorset has a total renewable energy capacity of 133 MW
∑ West of England has a total renewable energy capacity of 123 MW
∑ Gloucestershire has a total renewable energy capacity of 109 MW