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UK renewable energy generation hits new high

UK renewable energy generation hits new high

UK renewable energy generation hits new high

Businesses that want to make renewable energy a key part of their efforts to be more efficient and sustainable will be encouraged by the latest figures from the UK government.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released data for the first quarter of 2017 showing that renewables' share of electricity generation was 26.6 per cent, an increase of one percentage point from the same period a year earlier.

Total electricity generation from sources like wind and solar power was 24.8 terawatt-hours (TWh), 5.1 per cent more than the 23.6 TWh delivered in the first quarter of 2016.

The biggest year-on-year increase across all of the technologies measured was in onshore wind, which boosted electricity generation by 1.3 TWh (20 per cent) to 7.7 TWh.

Total wind generation increased by ten per cent to 12.7 TWh, while solar power raised its contribution to the renewable energy mix by 16 per cent, to 1.7 TWh.

Overall, renewable electricity capacity across the UK had reached 36.9 gigawatts by the end of the first quarter of 2017, 12 per cent up from a year earlier and 3.3 per cent up from the previous quarter.

This is a beneficial trend for the UK as a whole, but what exactly does it mean for businesses?

One of the biggest advantages is that, with increased capacity and generation comes reduced costs, making renewable energy more widely available and affordable for even small firms.

This was welcomed by non-profit trade association RenewableUK, which pointed out that sustainable power is becoming a "mainstream technology" and is now "cheaper and more advanced than ever".

"Our innovative industries have matured to the point where we now reliably provide over 25 per cent of the UK with clean, sustainable power," said Emma Pinchbeck, the organisation's executive director.

"It's great to see that onshore wind has set a new record, producing more electricity than ever at a time of year when we need it most."

The business case for embracing renewable energy is underlined by the fact that a number of major corporations and prestigious brands from around the world are taking this approach.

In a report published in November 2016, the Climate Reality Project noted that large businesses are getting on board with renewable energy "in a big way", not only because of the environmental benefits but because it makes financial sense as well.

One such company is tech giant Intel, which has been the largest voluntary corporate purchaser of green power in the US for eight years straight.

Apple has also drawn up a comprehensive climate change action plan and made a commitment to operating entirely on renewable energy.

While smaller businesses may not have the financial clout of the likes of Apple and Intel, the increasing availability and affordability of renewable energy over the coming years will open up more opportunities to start with small investments and build gradually from there.

Those firms that are able to invest in measures such as solar power installations on office rooftops can expect to see the benefits - both environmentally and financially - in the long run.

 

Posted by Frances Singer

Image courtesy of iStock/Stockinasia