Renewables lead the charge for UK electricity generation

In: Windfarms
The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published energy statistics for the second quarter of 2020 (April to June).

Total primary energy consumption for energy uses fell by 24 per cent. When adjusted to take account of weather differences between the second quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020, total primary energy consumption fell by 19 per cent. This record low quarterly level of consumption was a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, which took effect from 23 March 2020, resulting in a significant fall in demand for main transport and other fuels.

Of electricity generated in the second quarter of 2020, renewables' share of UK electricity generation increased from 35.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 to 44.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2020. This was partly attributed to increased capacity. Coal accounted for only 0.5 per cent, a record low, whilst gas accounted for 34.4 per cent. Nuclear generation accounted for 17.6 per cent of total electricity generated in the second quarter of 2020.

Renewable electricity generation was 30.1 TWh in 2020 Q2, an increase of 12 per cent on the previous year. Offshore wind generation rose to 7.8 TWh a 31 per cent increase despite slower average wind speeds. Onshore wind generation fell to 6.1 TWh, a slight decrease. Renewable electricity capacity was 48.5 GW at the end of the second quarter of 2020, a 5.4 per cent increase (2.4 GW) on a year earlier, with just under 80 per cent of the increase coming from offshore wind.
The UK is currently leading the world in offshore wind capacity, with over 10 GW commissioned and more than 15 GW past the construction consent milestone. In the last twelve months, a number of developments have seen the cost of offshore wind fall and government support behind the technology increase as its looks to cut carbon emissions. Earlier this year, the UK's target for installed offshore wind was raised to 40 GW by 2030.

In June Crown Estate Scotland, manager of Scotland’s seabed announced the launch of the first round of offshore wind leasing in Scottish waters in a decade. Total investment in ScotWind Leasing projects could potentially surpass £8 billion and could deliver more than enough electricity to power every Scottish household. This followed the Crown Estate opening the Invitation to Tender (ITT) Stage 1 for Round 4 of its offshore wind leasing programme in APril. Round 4 is expected to facilitate the installation of at least 7 GW of new offshore wind capacity off the coasts of England and Wales. Round 4 was unveiled after seven extension projects with a combined capacity of 2.85 GW progressed to the award of rights stage.

In September 2019, the cost of offshore wind dropped around 30%, following the result of the UK government's latest Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, which provides subsidy support for major renewable energy infrastructure projects. Projects are now being delivered for as low as £39.65/MWh. Successful projects included the
Doggerbank Creyke Beck A, Doggerbank Creyke Beck B, Doggerbank Teeside A, Forthwind,  Seagreen Phase 1 and Sofia offshore wind farms. The cumulative capacity of these awarded projects exceeds 5.4 GW.

As part of the sector deal, signed in March 2019, the government will hold another Contracts for Difference allocation round in 2021, with further auctions approximately every two years. Depending on the price achieved, these auctions will deliver between 1 and 2 GW of offshore wind each year in the 2020s.

For more information on the offshore wind industry in the UK and further afield,
click here.

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