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CLIMATE ACTION PROGRAMME

3 July 2014

UK independent renewable energy investment blustering up to £300 million

The year 2014 has witnessed a 40% increase in the amount being invested into renewable energy in the UK, pushing the total figure being pumped into independent commercial scale projects up to £300 million.

This growth was revealed by Smartest Energy - Great Britain’s leading purchaser of energy generated by the independent sector - as part of the Energy Entrepreneurs Report. The report illustrates a total production of 50kw of energy from 2,930 projects powered by companies outside of the major energy firms (the Big Six).

During 2013, there were an additional 843 independent renewable energy projects implemented across the UK, at  an average cost of £353,000. The 40% increase in the spend also resulted in a similar growth in terms of capacity. Although it is onshore wind farms where  the greatest capacity is held, it was in the independent solar sector where the most impressive growth of 150% was recorded. This comes at a time when controversial government plans seek to reduce their support to large scale solar farms.

One major financing approach helping to fund the projects has been the selling of shares. This has proven particularly popular in community projects, where the sense of ownership is seen as the key driving force. A prime example of the success of such ventures is the 500kw wind turbine projects in both Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The Four Winds Energy Co-op has managed to attract £1 million in investment in just four weeks, and hopes ultimately to raise £3.7 million by the end of the month. The draw of such investment comes from the high yields available in combination with a collective passion towards renewable energy generation.

The Smartest Energy report went on to suggest that independent renewable energy sources are now capable of powering 4.67 million households - an increase of 19% from 2012. In terms of the value of the energy production, such independent projects are now able to generate an incredible £997m each year. Dwarfing these figures, however, is the £64.4 billion expected to be invested into the sector by 2020, in order to meet government targets for renewable energy.

A separate report by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) suggests that wind power and other renewable energy sources have now grown to be responsible for just short of 20% of all the UK's electricity.  This illustrated more than a 7% increase in the percentage share from the same time last year. The UK is, however, still trailing far behind other EU countries in green development, especially with regards to biofuels and green heat. That being said, the recent statistics are said to be a slap in the face for critics, who have always claimed that renewable energy could never grow to such a scale in the UK.

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