Number making own electricity rises 52 per cent in one year

Stephanie Clark
Stephanie Clark

The number of Scots companies, communities, farms and landowners making their own electricity has risen by more than 50 per cent in the last year.

New figures show 775 organisations have bought generating equipment in a bid to insulate themselves from rising energy costs, cut carbon emissions and sell excess power to the grid.

That’s up from just 509 in 2013, according to a new report by independent energy firm SmartestEnergy.

Iain Robertson, Glasgow-based head of generation for SmartestEnergy, said the latest figures highlighted how significant the independent generation sector now was for Scotland.

He said: “That fact that over £1.5 million was invested every week last year also demonstrates the resilience of the sector against a backdrop of political uncertainty, changes to renewable subsidies and the fall seen in wholesale power prices.”

An estimated £80.9m was spent developing 267 new wind, hydro, solar and anaerobic digestion projects in 2014, taking the total spend to just over £494m, according to the Energy Entrepreneurs 2015 report.

In total, Scotland now has 775 commercial-scale projects over 50kW capacity now operating outside of the big power companies. They are generating £271m worth of electricity a year, enough to power more than 1.4 million households.

The figures show Scotland continues to punch well above its weight given its size, attracting almost a quarter of total spend in the independent sector to date across Great Britain (£494.1 million).

Stephanie Clark, policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “This report shows quite clearly that there is a growing willingness to consider renewable technology as a way to fix energy bills rather than exposing a business or community to fluctuations in the wholesale cost of fossil fuel energy supplied from the grid.”

The number of solar sites north of the border almost doubled during the year with 15 new projects taking the total number up to 32, while anaerobic digestion projects, which can turn waste food into electricity, also saw strong growth with five new sites taking total numbers up to 12.

Across Great Britain, the report shows that the total invested in the sector has now risen to almost £2.1bn, with over 4,460 commercial-scale sites of at least 50kW capacity now in operation.

The projects generate an estimated £1.08bn in wholesale energy a year, enough to power 5.7 million homes or meet all of the public sector’s power needs.

Since the first report in 2013, the amount invested in the sector has risen by 75 per cent, project numbers have more than doubled and their share of total UK generation risen by more than 50 per cent to stand at over 7 per cent.

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