Generating Buzz

Energy milestone reached in United Kingdom

Official figures produced March 29 by the United Kingdom’s governmental publishing service show an energy milestone was reached in 2017. They show that wind farms and solar panels produced more electricity than the country’s eight nuclear power stations for the first time.

Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions also continued to decrease to the tune of a 3% drop, with coal use declining and the use of renewable energy sources climbing.

Energy experienced the biggest drop in emissions of any UK sector, of 8%, while pollution from transport and businesses stayed flat. The Guardian first published the report.

More than half of electricity generation was low carbon (from nuclear and renewable sources) for
the first time in 2017, reaching a record high 50.4 per cent share of generation. This was 4.7
percentage points higher than the 45.7 per cent share in 2016. Low carbon generation was driven
by favorable weather conditions for renewables as well as increased capacity. Nuclear generation
has remained fairly constant in recent times.

Energy industry chiefs said the figures showed that the government should rethink its ban on onshore wind subsidies, a move that ministers have hinted could happen soon. Lawrence Slade, chief executive of the big six lobby group Energy UK, said: “We need to keep up the pace … by ensuring that the lowest cost renewables are no longer excluded from the market.”

Across the whole year, low-carbon sources of power – wind, solar, biomass and nuclear – provided a record 50.4% of electricity, up from 45.7% in 2016. However, in the fourth quarter of 2017, high wind speeds, new renewables installations and lower nuclear output saw wind and solar becoming the second biggest source of power for the first time. Wind and solar generated 18.33 terawatt hours (TWh), with nuclear on 16.69TWh, the figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show.

Meanwhile, in parallel news, a new European fund for renewable energy has been created. Aquila Capital is launching a new fund called Energy Transition Infrastructure Fund “to invest in energy infrastructure assets that are essential to Europe’s energy transition,” including hydropower. This fund advances on “three full invested predecessor funds,” Elizabeth Ingram of Renewable Energy World reported. ETIF will “pursue the three most important subsectors of the energy transition, namely renewable energy generation, energy storage and energy transportation,” according to a press release. This strategy will be launched as the Luxembourg-based Reserved Alternative Investment Fund, with a target volume of €750 million (US$933 million) and a term of 12 years.

The new strategy is primarily seeking investment in onshore and offshore wind power, photovoltaics, hydropower, electricity grids and heat networks, and energy storage, with an emphasis on greenfield projects. The geographical focus is on continental Europe and the Nordic countries, with possible additional allocations in Great Britain and in Central and Eastern Europe, Aquila Capital says.

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