The Renewable Energy Foundation is today releasing a new and fully searchable website application and database of performance and other information relating to all UK generators of renewable electricity for which there is public-domain data, totaling approximately 21 GW of capacity spread over half a million sites.
One striking general conclusion from the data is that while there is continuing growth in the subsidized renewable electricity sector, growth in the unsubsidized sector has stalled.
Over the lifetime of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), 2010-2014, capacity under the FiT itself has increased by 2,000% (0.1 GW to 2.6 GW); and capacity under the Renewables Obligation subsidy has increased by 100% (8.3 GW to 16.7 GW); but capacity in the unsubsidized sector has been stagnant at ca. 2 GW), with a marginal 6% increase.
Commenting on the stagnation of growth in unsubsidized renewables, Dr John Constable, director of REF, added: “Subsidies to renewables are clearly failing to ignite spontaneous, unsubsidized, growth, and it is arguable that they are actually infantilizing the sector. Root and branch reform is clearly needed.”
The new website application updates and greatly expands REF’s previous database of major generators, which covered only those power stations in the Renewables Obligation, and did not report output generation for larger generators in the Feed-in Tariff. Unsubsidized generators were not covered at all. The new data is comprehensive and contains:
1. All Renewables Obligation generators (currently about 16.4 GW)
2. All Feed-in Tariff Generators for which output can be gauged from Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO certificates) (2.6 GW).
3. All unsubsidized renewable generation, such as large hydro built before 2002 and the biomass fraction of incinerated waste, determined either from REGOs or from Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs) (2 GW).
In conjunction with the separate REF listings of the 500,000 (2.6 GW) smaller Feed-in Tariff generators for which there is mostly no individual performance data, REF now offers complete coverage of the renewable electricity sector.
The new website application is powerful and customizable, allowing the user to view the historic renewable energy growth and generation at many different levels, from individual generator and technology types right up to country level totals.
The website database reveals many important trends and individual facts of importance, in particular permitting the public to see for the first time the unsubsidised renewable energy output which is counted towards the UK renewable targets. This is generated by 1.5 GW of large hydropower, and just over 400 MW of incinerators burning biodegradeable waste.
The data will become a major resource for journalists, broadcasters, analysts, and interested members of the public frustrated by the coarse-grained and inflexible data supplied by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Dr Lee Moroney, REF’s principal analyst and the architect of the new database, said: “Good data is essential if we are to learn from the heavily subsidized renewables experiment, and our new website application gives a unique opportunity for the public to see what is going on at macro and microscopic levels.”
Notes for Editors:
1. REF is a UK charity publishing data and comment on the energy sector. It is supported by private donation and has no political affiliation.
2. REF data and publications are available free of charge at www.ref.org.uk. The new database and be found at www.ref.org.uk/generators, which also includes Notes for users and a Quick Start guide.