This morning I was shocked to read a report by the UK’s Renewable Energy Association which finds that the UK met 19.2% of its electricity demand with renewable energy in 2014. This is the result of a 20% increase in renewable energy output over the previous year, and evidence that the UK is joining the rest of Western Europe (with the notable exceptions of the fossil-fueled Netherlands and atomic France) in moving to renewable energy.
I’ve long considered the UK a laggard in this regard, as the nation was well behind its peers for many years. And while it is still behind Denmark, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy for the percent of electricity demand met with non-hydro renewable energy, apparently it is catching up. This is rare good news for Europe, where even in leading nations like Germany and Spain myopic political leaders have put the brakes on the Energy Transition. I am particularly surprised given the many twists and turns that the previous Liberal Dem/Tory Coalition put renewable energy policies through over the last few years.
There are still big concerns. The UK is a major importer of biomass pellets, and is driving the U.S. market for the production of these pellets. The shoddy oversight of private forestry practices in the U.S. makes such imports a corruption of the principles of renewable energy. However, given WTO restrictions on local content requirements it is hard to address this. Also, as the report notes, progress has been slow in heating and transport.
The full report can be found on the REA website.