UK bioenergy capacity, generation increased in 2018

By Erin Voegele | April 02, 2019

The U.K. government has released new energy data, reporting that renewables accounted for a record 33.3 percent of electricity generation last year. Bioenergy generation increased 12 percent when compared to 2017.

The U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released the updated energy data on March 28. According to the data, total energy production in the U.K. increased 3.7 percent when compared to 2017. This increase, the fourth in successive years, is attributed to rises in output from oil, bioenergy and waste, wind, and solar. Total energy output from bioenergy, waste, wind, solar and hydro is now nearly 13 times higher than coal.

Of electricity generated in the U.K. during 2018, 39.4 percent was generated using natural gas, with 5 percent generated from coal. The renewables share of electricity generation increased to 33.3 percent, a new record high, with 111 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity generated from renewable sources. Bioenergy accounted for 32 percent of U.K. renewables generation last year.

Total renewable electricity capacity in the U.K. reached 44.4 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2018, an increase of 9.7 percent or 3.9 GW when compared to 2017. Bioenergy accounted for 17.3 percent of renewables capacity.

According to the BEIS, bioenergy capacity increased by 27 percent, or 1.6 GW, last year, due mostly to increase plant biomass capacity driven by the conversion of a unit at Drax Power Station to biomass and the conversion of the Lynemouth power station from coal to biomass.

Total electricity generation in the U.K. fell by 1.4 percent in 2018, from 339 TWh a year in 2017 to 334 TWh in 2018. Decreases in generation from coal, gas and nuclear were offset by increases from renewables, with a 12 percent increase in bioenergy generation and a 14 percent increase in wind and solar generation. Bioenergy generation reached 35.6 TWh last year. The increase is partly attributed to power stations converting to plant biomass.

According to the BEIS, generation from plant biomass increased 21 percent, from 20.1 TWh in 2017 to 24.3 TWh in 2018. Generation from waste increased by 3.2 percent due to increased capacity, while generation from anaerobic digestion decreased by 7 percent due to a decrease in capacity.