South West renewable energy capacity hits 1 Gigawatt

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 02 Jul 2013 11:58
Sites likes Delabole help boost SW renewable output

Renewable energy capacity in South West England has grown by almost 50% in the last year.

The region now generates 7.3% of its electricity from renewable sources - more than 1 GW annually - but this growth is not enough to meet the Government’s target of 15% by 2020.

According to the South West Renewable Energy Progress Report, produced by Regen SW, the breakdown of renewables is:

* 251 MW of solar PV (200 MW from megawatt scale solar farms)

* 39 MW from biomass

* 20 MW from heat pumps

* 13 MW from anaerobic digestion (7.2 MW electricity and 5.8 MW heat)

* 6 MW from energy from waste

• 5.5 MW from onshore wind

Regen chief executive Merlin Hyman said if the region misses the 15% target it will risk losing a huge economic opportunity to build a world-leading renewables industry.

He added: “This year’s progress report is encouraging. However, it should be just the start. If we continue at our current pace we will finish a long way off our 2020 target.

“This means we’ll be missing out the chance to create 34,000 high-value new jobs in the sector, the opportunity to become less reliant on uncertain oversees supplies of fossil fuels, and the opportunity of using our local renewable energy resources to generate income and fuel security for local communities.”

The progress report includes a full breakdown of all the region’s renewable energy technologies, details of current initiatives to drive forward the sector, and an analysis of exactly what the South West must do to get on track to meet government targets.

It follows Regen’s recently-launched South West Renewable Energy Manifesto which commits the region to building a world-leading industry delivering 34,000 jobs.

“A key conclusion of our analysis is that we need a mix of all renewables’ technologies,” says Mr Hyman. “While solar PV and onshore wind are currently our best performers, the deployment of offshore wind in the Bristol Channel and off the Dorset coast has the potential to make the largest contribution to the amount of renewable energy we generate, and wave and tidal energy have an exciting future.”

To continue to drive forward the sector, Regen believes that emphasis must be placed on:

• Successful delivery of government policies including the Electricity Market Reform and Green Deal to provide a consistent and coherent policy framework;

* Local plans providing a clear framework for renewable energy development;

• A new model of development putting local communities at the heart of new projects;

• Investment in the local grid and for the roll out of new ‘smart’ technology;

• Local Enterprise Partnerships and City Deals backing sustainable energy as a key priority sector ;

* Technology development between our universities and businesses.

Mr Hyman added : “The past last year has shown some of the key challenges to scaling up renewable energy including policy uncertainty, grid capacity and engaging communities positively in new developments. To build a world-leading industry we need to learn the lessons from our progress this year.”

Devon has a total renewable energy capacity of 301 MW; Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly 293 MW; Somerset 102 MW; Dorset 98 MW; Wiltshire 96 MW; Former Avon 87 MW; and Gloucestershire 66 MW.

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