Cloudy Wales is top of the league for solar progress

Tuesday 22 November 2016
Amy Mount Amy MountHead of Greener UK Unit020 7630 4515amount@green-alliance.org.uk

League tables ranking progress on renewables in England and Wales over the past year, published by think tank Green Alliance, have revealed that Gwynedd and Mid Glamorgan are the most improved counties for solar and wind power respectively. [1][2][3]
 
The solar progress league table reveals that new solar power installations in the past year have been strongly concentrated in England’s eastern counties. However, it is not the UK’s sunnier areas but Gwynedd in north Wales which takes top place for new solar.[4]
 
The picture for onshore wind is more even, with counties in the East Midlands and North West doing well, but they were pipped to the post by Mid Glamorgan in south Wales.
 
Cambridgeshire is not only one of the top three improvers for both solar and onshore wind power; it is also top overall for onshore wind power, with a total of 235 MW installed – enough to power more than 146,000 homes.
 
These findings come as the UK joins more than 190 countries in Marrakech calling for the highest political commitment to fight climate change, in the face of a threat from President-elect Trump that he will pull out of the international agreement. The ‘Marrakech Action Proclamation’ has been described by the climate minister, Nick Hurd MP, as a “clear signal” of the unity around this issue.[5]
 
The cost of renewable technologies continues to fall, with onshore wind now cheaper than new gas plants, and solar costs dropping dramatically in recent years. [6] [7] Renewables have become fundamental to the UK’s electricity system, providing a quarter of the country’s power in 2015. And, according to official government statistics, public support for renewables remains solid, above 76 per cent.[8]
 
Top 10 counties for solar progress
  1. Gwynedd
  2. Wiltshire
  3. Cambridgeshire
  4. Norfolk
  5. Lincolnshire
  6. East Sussex
  7. West Sussex
  8. Kent
  9. Derbyshire
  10. Cumbria
Top 10 counties for onshore wind progress
  1. Mid Glamorgan
  2. Lancashire
  3. Cambridgeshire
  4. Lincolnshire
  5. Northamptonshire
  6. Clwyd
  7. West Yorkshire
  8. Suffolk
  9. Leicestershire
  10. Durham
 
Amy Mount, head of the Greener UK unit at Green Alliance, said:
“Following the UK’s ratification of the Paris climate agreement last week these data bring it home, showing that progress in tackling climate change isn’t just about world leaders making deals – though they’re very important. It’s as much about the actions of communities and businesses here in the UK, who are gradually transforming our power system into one that’s pollution-free and fit for the twenty-first century.”
 
Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:
 
“I am pleased Wales is leading the way in the UK on progress in wind and solar power. We have committed to supporting the development of more renewable energy projects in our Programme for Government and this progress clearly supports our decarbonisation agenda. These technologies provide affordable low carbon energy, which can help secure a smarter energy future for Wales.”
 
Councillor Mandy Williams-Davies, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economy and Community matters, said:
“We have a long tradition of energy production in Gwynedd, and we are pleased that there has been a rise in terms of the production of solar energy within the county. This is of environmental, social and economic benefit to the county as a whole. The Council’s carbon management plan has already reduced the carbon emissions of Council properties by 35,000 tonnes and delivered £3.1 million cumulative revenue savings over recent years. This, along with other renewable developments within the county, are obviously helping to deliver real improvements in Gwynedd’s production of renewable energy.”
 
Robert Proctor, business development manager for Community Energy Wales, said:
“We are delighted that Community Energy is playing a significant role in Wales. Projects such as Awel Coop, a 4.7MW wind farm currently under construction, show what can be achieved through community ownership.  Community Energy projects are also leading the way in developing new business models that promote a greater link between local supply and demand. Cyd Ynni in Gwynedd are pioneering a pilot project with Ynni Ogwen and Energy Local to deliver locally generated energy directly to local people which could transform the way energy is used.  With over £5 million raised through community share offers over the last three years to invest in schemes like these, it demonstrates that there is a growing interest in supporting the democratisation of our energy.”
 
ENDS
 
Contact
Amy Mount, head of Greener UK Unit, Green Alliance
amount@green-alliance.org.uk, 020 7630 4515 / 07813 474986
 
Notes:
 
 [1] Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. Since 1979, it has been working with a growing network of influential leaders in business, NGOs and politics to stimulate new thinking and dialogue on environmental policy, and increase political action and support for environmental solutions in the UK.
 
[2] The full league tables are given in the attached Excel file.
 
[3] Green Alliance is launching the 2016 update of its interactive website, the Renewable Energy Locator, providing those who live in England and Wales with an easily accessible picture of how renewable energy is doing in their area. It shows how much of the electricity and gas they use comes from renewables and how well places are performing compared to others. Link: www.green-alliance.org.uk/renewablelocator
 
[4] Maps showing how sunshine and windiness vary across the UK are provided by the Met Office (use drop down box of ‘climate variable’ to select ‘mean wind speed’ and ‘sunshine’): http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate
 
[5] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38021673
 
[6] A Bloomberg New Energy Finance study published on 5 October 2015 (http://about.bnef.com/press-releases/wind-solar-boost-cost-competitiveness-versus-fossil-fuels/) found that “onshore wind is now fully cost-competitive with both gas-fired and coal-fired generation, once carbon costs are taken into account, in the UK”. “In the UK, onshore wind comes in on average at $85 per MWh in the second half of 2015, compared to $115 for combined-cycle gas and $115 for coal-fired power”.  Dollar values have been converted to pounds using the exchange rate from that date.
 
[7] A survey of 1,530 Which? members found that the average cost of a solar PV system fell from £11,329 in 2011 to £6,750 in 2015 http://www.which.co.uk/energy/creating-an-energy-saving-home/guides/how-to-buy-solar-panels/solar-pv-prices-and-savings/
 
[8] The latest government statistics on the popularity of renewables, from February 2016: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/public-attitudes-tracking-survey-wave-18
 
[9] Green Alliance commissioned Regen SW to retrieve all data, which are current as of March 2016. The rankings were produced by analysing publicly available datasets such as the  DECC planning database, installation reports of the Feed-in Tariff and Renewables Obligation Certificates, as well as securing Freedom of Information requests for different categories of the Renewable Heat Incentive. This analysis resulted in collection of information on nearly 1,000,000 individual projects, sorted by local authority and technology across England and Wales.
 
[10] Regen SW passionately believes renewable energy and energy efficiency have a vital role at the heart of a prosperous and sustainable society. Regen is an independent not-for-profit working with industry, communities and the public sector to overcome barriers to the development of renewables and energy efficiency, creating local jobs and benefiting local communities.

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