As most people now know, renewable energy is energy collected from resources that are naturally replenished on a human (or turtle) timescale. So, all those sources so frequently in the news; sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal heat can all be used to boil a kettle?
While this may surprise some, these technologies are certainly not new. The UK has made use of the elements to heat our ready meals and fuel our Ford Fiestas since the advent of time. Yet, through the Swinging Sixties, polluting fossil fuels like oil and coal began to reign supreme in powering Britain – with little thought about future challenges…
Fast forward to today, the use of our natural resources as a primary source of energy may officially be trendier than avocado on toast. According to CNN Business, the world generated a record 10% of its electricity from wind and solar in 2021 and renewable sources accounted for 38% of total global power supply — even more than coal. The International Energy Agency predicts that in 2022, renewable capacity is expected to further increase over 8%, reaching almost 320 GW.
The brits have arrived at the somewhat obvious conclusion that renewable energy is one of the best ways to fight the good fight against climate change. But in case saving the planet from eternal damnation is too little of an incentive (which it should not be), there are an array of benefits attached to the use of renewables.
Energy transition is good
Side effects of renewable energy use include job creation, energy cost reduction and a diminishing dependence on Norwegian, Saudi Arabian and Russian* fossil fuel imports.
All the pros considered, powering your business or home with a renewable source such as wind is not as breezy as one may think (excuse the pun). At Zestec Renewable Energy it is not our intention to blind you with solar-powered optimism. We admit it, there are some undeniable challenges attached to the deployment of these renewable technologies, at least for now.
So, is renewable energy all it is hyped up to be?
The Renewable Energy Sources used in the UK
Before we delve into the pros and cons of renewable energy, it’s probably useful to appreciate the rich vein of sources we have in the UK. Here are some things you may not know about wind, biomass, solar and hydroelectric power powering 43% of the UK.
Wind: To utilise wind at a national level, we need to invest in wind farms, either on land or at high sea, with dozens of wind turbines. And as it turns out, the UK is really good at it. Britain leads the way globally offshore, with more installed capacity of offshore wind farms than any other country, even China!
Biomass: Most people are surprised to learn that biomass is the UK’s second-largest source of renewable energy, accounting for 12% of the UK’s energy mix (The Independent), we use it to fuel electric generators and other machinery. The Committee on Climate Change has concluded that bioenergy could provide up to 15% of UK energy demand in a low-carbon economy by 2050.
Solar: Surprisingly, despite being the cheapest and most abundant energy source globally, solar accounts for only 4.2% of the UK’s energy mix (nationalgrid). That said, in the UK solar is far out of the renewable energy gaining the most traction. Solar Power Portal recorded that in 2022 the UK has posted 80% growth in new solar PV installations. This growth is primarily motivated by corporate net zero target-setting and the securitisation of energy supply.
Hydro-Electric: Hydropower was the first renewable energy used in the UK back in 1879 when the first hydroelectric generator was used to power a lamp! According to the International Hydropower Association (IHA) Hydropower running from the mountains of Wales and Scotland has consistently supplied around 2% of the nation’s power supply for the past 30 years.
Watch this space for Part 2 coming soon…