New renewable energy league table reveals north-south divide

Friday 1 April 2016

A new renewable energy league table reveals that Cornwall and East Riding are the top counties in England and Wales for installed solar and wind power respectively.[1]  The league table, produced by think tank Green Alliance, reveals a strong north-south pattern, with northern England performing better on onshore wind capacity and the south doing better on solar.[2]
Onshore wind is now cheaper than new gas plants,[3] and solar costs have also fallen dramatically in recent years.[4] Renewables are now core to the UK’s electricity system, providing a quarter of the country’s power in 2015.[5] And renewable energy is popular with people in the UK according to official government statistics which show 78% of the public support the use of renewables, with only 4% against.[6]
Top 10 solar counties
  1. Cornwall
  2. Devon
  3. Wiltshire
  4. Cambridgeshire
  5. Kent
  6. Norfolk
  7. Oxfordshire
  8. ​Hampshire
  9. Somerset
  10. Dorset
Top 10 onshore wind counties
  1. East Riding of Yorkshire
  2. Lincolnshire
  3. Cambridgeshire
  4. Lancashire
  5. Dyfed
  6. Northumberland
  7. Mid Glamorgan
  8. Durham
  9. Cumbria
  10. Powys

Amy Mount, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, said:
“The distribution of onshore wind and solar revealed by the league tables show that counties are playing to their strengths. Most of the wind power is clustered in the windiest sites, generally coastal areas, and anyone who regularly staycations will tell you the south gets more sun than the north.
“What this shows is that, while funding for renewables is constrained by national policy, developers are tending to favour the sites that maximise their technology’s potential. It also means these are the places which will suffer the drop in construction activity due to the current block on subsidy free wind and solar.
“But solar panels generate power even on cloudy days and, as a blustery island nation, there are many spots right across the country capable of generating a substantial amount of energy from wind. Yet, in the March Budget, the government did nothing to clarify the future of these vital technologies.  In the meantime, families and businesses are paying for more expensive, high carbon energy.
“There’s much more we could, and should, be doing to make the most of our great British weather.”
Amy Mount, senior policy adviser, Green Alliance (available for interview) Mobile: 07813 474986
[1] The full league tables and graphs of the top ten counties are in the attached Excel file. The attached images show the comparison in map form (image credit: Renewable Energy Locator website).
[2] Green Alliance is launching an 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:
[3] A Bloomberg New Energy Finance study published on 5 October 2015 ( 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.
[4] 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
[5] The latest Government statistics on the popularity of renewables, from February 2016:
[6] Green Alliance commissioned Regen SW to retrieve all data, which are current as of March 2015. The rankings were produced by analysing publically available datasets such as 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 700,000 individual projects, sorted by local authority and technology across England and Wales.
[7] 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.
[8] 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.

20 January 2017: Updates to the 2015 data (as the source of the data, RegenSW, refined their analysis) and the fact that some local authorities in Lincolnshire were not included correctly in total county calculations, mean that the rankings shown in this press release have changed, as shown below:
Top 10 solar counties
  1. Cornwall
  2. Wiltshire
  3. Cambridgeshire
  4. Devon
  5. Kent
  6. Norfolk
  7. Oxfordshire
  8. Dyfed
  9. Dorset
  10. Hampshire
Top 10 onshore wind counties
  1. East Riding of Yorkshire
  2. Cambridgeshire
  3. Northumberland
  4. Dyfed
  5. Lancashire
  6. Durham
  7. Cumbria
  8. Powys
  9. South Yorkshire
  10. Lincolnshire