A new survey, launched today, has shown that individuals and businesses in the south west of England are taking significant steps to move away from using oil and gas for heating, by switching to burning wood from sustainable, local sources.
The annual Survey of Renewable Electricity and Heat Projects in South West England, carried out by south west sustainable energy agency Regen SW, shows that heat from renewable sources has risen by 36 per cent to 56 MW, while electricity from renewable sources has grown by just 2.89 MW to 155 MW (enough to power approximately all of the houses in Plymouth and Exeter combined). The majority of the increase in renewable heat, which has increased ten-fold over the past four years, is due to new biomass boilers being fitted throughout the south west.
Merlin Hyman, Regen SW chief executive, said: “We have seen a remarkable increase in the amount of heat being generated from renewable sources in the south west over the past 12 months, and this is set to increase even further over the next couple of years. We expect at least a further 40-50 MW as a result of the South West Bioheat Programme. This shows that we can make a rapid switch to renewable energy, as long as we have the right support.
“Despite these positive results though, we have a huge task ahead of us. The UK’s EU targets show that by 2020 we must generate 15 per cent of our energy from renewable sources, and currently the south west is only managing about one per cent. This task will require change on a much larger scale, and the low increase in renewable electricity shows that we have a long way to go.
“This is a major challenge,” added Merlin, “but it’s also a major opportunity for the south west, which is rich in the natural resources and entrepreneurial spirit needed to lead the sustainable energy revolution. It’s encouraging that we have more than 150 MW of renewable electricity approved, waiting to be built, but we need much more. It’s therefore essential that we, as a region, move more quickly when deciding upon and building major renewable electricity projects.”
One particular area where the region is seeing big increases is in smaller-scale installations of renewable energy, with 618 microgeneration projects (under 50 kW) being recorded in the past 12 months. This is more than a 50 per cent increase on the previous year.
Cornwall remains the region’s best performing county, with over a third of the region’s total renewable heat and electricity capacity. Other county statistics are as follows:
|COUNTY||INSTALLED RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY CAPACITY (MW)||INSTALLED RENEWABLE HEAT CAPACITY (MW)||TOTAL (MW)|
|Cornwall and IOS||57.80||14.28||72.08|
Former Avon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire all added less than 0.1 but Former Avon saw three large wind projects approved by councillors, totaling 25 MW.
Cornwall is the best performing county, both in terms of renewable electricity and renewable heat, with nearly 70 MW of renewable energy.
Devon added the greatest amount to its installed heat capacity with 4.58 MW, closing the gap between it and leading county Cornwall.
Two proposed wind farms, which are due to be determined in 2009, have the capacity to increase Dorset’s total installed capacity by over 21 MW (60 per cent).
Gloucestershire had a high number of new microgeneration installations, with 103 new heat projects (second behind Cornwall) and 17 new electricity projects (third behind Cornwall and Devon), due in part to the availability of Gloucestershire Renewable Energy Grants.
Somerset was the only county to record over 1 MW of new electricity installations in 2008/9, due to the installation of a wind farm at Shooters Bottom. It added the least amount to its installed heat capacity, and was the only county to add less than 1 MW.
Wiltshire saw the greatest percentage increase (starting from a low base) by more than doubling its installed renewable heat capacity.
To view a full version of the Annual Survey of Renewable Electricity and Heat Projects in South West England, click here.