Milestones for renewable energy

Additions to the UK's renewable energy capacity showed a modest upturn in the second quarter of this year, with 72MW of new schemes coming on line.

Last year was disappointing for renewables, with just 97MW of declared net capacity added by schemes subsidised under the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation and its equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland (ENDS Report 304, p 8 ).

This year looks like being considerably better, with the 86MW of subsidised schemes brought into operation by the end of June bringing the UK total to 834MW.

The new capacity continues to be heavily dominated by landfill gas projects, which accounted for 48.5MW of the total capacity commissioned to June.

Other contributions came from the UK's first biomass gasification plant in Eggborough, North Yorkshire (8MW) and a new municipal waste incinerator in Dundee (8.3MW) - though this has been out of action this autumn following a major fire (ENDS Report 308, pp 15-16 ).

Only three onshore wind farms with a capacity of 12.5MW had been commissioned by June, continuing the sector's disappointing performance. In contrast, 890 wind turbines have been installed in Germany in the first nine months of this year.

Several milestones have, though, been passed by the UK renewables sector in recent weeks. Scottish Power has commissioned a 20-turbine wind farm in Ayrshire which is claimed to be the first to operate without a subsidy.

In November, Amec Border Wind began generating power from the UK's first offshore wind turbines - two 2MW units off Blyth in Northumberland. And a 500kW wave power unit built by Wavegen on the Scottish island of Islay also began producing power.

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