Renewable power now provides 15% of south west electricity consumption, enough for 1.2 million homes, according to a new publication ‘Renewable energy: A local progress report for England’.
For the first time the report, by renewable energy experts Regen SW, compares the south west against the rest of England.
The report finds Government cuts in support have started to slow down progress on the ground.
While 485 MW of new solar PV capacity was built in the south west in 2015/16 this was half the growth of the previous year.
The south west leads England on the amount of heat generated from renewable sources which provide 5% of domestic heat demand. The region also the highest number of renewable energy projects (128,080) and the highest onshore installed capacity. However, major projects like the burning of biomass at Drax power station mean that Yorkshire and the Humber has the highest percentage of electricity from renewables in England.
Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, said: “This decade has seen remarkable growth in renewable energy in England. This is a public policy success story – a combination of public and private investment has led to innovation and technological progress, new industries and rapidly falling costs.
“The recent Government policy changes are taking the UK out of the global fast lane of renewables and the impact can already be seen on the ground. However, the global shift to a smart, decentralised and renewable energy system is now unstoppable and the south west of England is showing how this shift can be turned into an opportunity for businesses and local communities.”
Devon and Cornwall continue to be the leading counties for renewables in the south west; however major new solar PV projects mean Wiltshire has seen the fastest growth in the last year.
We will be taking a closer look at the renewables sector in the September issue of Business Cornwall magazine, which will be complemented by a special Business Cornwall Live! event later in the month. Full details to follow.