UK clean energy hits new record high

Renewables such as wind, solar, bioenergy and hydro generated almost a fifth of the UK’s electricity in 2014 setting a new record for clean technologies, provisional figures showed on Thursday.

The biggest share of renewable electricity came from bioenergy, which accounted for 22.9 per cent of the total – largely due to a second conversion at Drax Power station to biomass, while 18.3 came from onshore wind, 13.3 from offshore wind, 5.9 from hydro and 3.9 from solar.

The amount of onshore wind generated increased by 7.9 per cent in 2014 and the amount of offshore wind was up 16.1 per cent, both increases mainly due to more capacity, statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change showed.

Maf Smith, RenewableUK deputy chief executive, said: “Onshore and offshore wind is a UK success story, and as the general election approaches, politicians should recognise its value, and support it fully.”

There was a drop of 8.4 per cent in the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 compared with 2013 due to lower electricity use and less burning of coal to generate power. The decrease in the amount of coal used – its share of power generation fell sharply to 29 per cent from more than 36 per cent in 2013 – is likely to bode well for the UK’s emission reduction.

In order to tackle air pollution, London mayor Boris Johnson confirmed on Thursday an “ultra low emission zone”, which is to be introduced in central London in 2020.

The move will require vehicles driving in the congestion charge zone to meet new emissions standards at all times of the day and week, or pay a charge, as part of efforts to cut pollution which causes thousands of premature deaths in the capital each year.

The figures on emissions showed a slight increase in pollution from transport, but emissions from homes, which are mainly from heating, fell almost 14 per cent as the country experienced a warmer year in 2014 than in 2013.

Gas production increased for the first time since 2000, also helping a fall in imports – 10.8 per cent lower than in 2013, making the UK less dependent on foreign supplies. Exports rose strongly by 16.8 per cent.

However, although British households used 14 per cent less energy in 2014, bills continued to rise with households paying £15 more for electricity on standard bills.

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