On 7 June 2017, the UK generated over 50% of its electricity from renewable energy for the first time ever. This follows on from the UK going a full 24 hours without any power generated from coal on 21 April 2017. These are landmark moments indeed! However, the UK still has a long way to go in renewables as it is lagging behind most international benchmarks. In 2015, only 8.2% of UK energy was generated from renewable sources. Furthermore, the UK now has plans to scrap its target of reaching 15% renewable energy generation by 2020 as part of Brexit.
The UK is not the only country that has recently been setting clean energy records. In early May 2017, Germany broke all records with renewable energy sources powering 85% of the country’s energy demands. On 13 May 2017, California generated just over 80% of its energy from renewable sources, with approximately 67% coming from solar power.
The EU is seeking to increase its power generation from renewables to 20% across all countries by 2020, as part of Europe 2020, the EU’s 10 year jobs and growth strategy. By 2015, it had reached 17% with several countries already meeting and exceeding the set thresholds. However, as the below diagram shows, there are still many countries that are falling behind.
In 2015, the countries with the highest share of renewable energy generation in the EU were Sweden, with 53.9%; Finland, with 39.3%; Latvia, with 37.6%, Austria, with 33% and Denmark with 30.8%. The countries with the lowest share were Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK.
However, with renewable energy costs steadily tumbling, we are likely to see an increasing share of energy generation coming from renewable sources as more renewable capacity is installed. Indeed, a recent report from the UN Environment Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that 139 gigawatts of renewable capacity was built in 2016, an 8% increase on the year before, despite investment falling by 23%. The report also shows that the 2016 gigawatt figure was equivalent to 55% of all the generating capacity added globally in 2016, the highest proportion in any year to date. So for the moment, we are getting more renewable energy capacity for less money. Let’s hope this trend continues…but without investors losing appetite for renewables!