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DECC publishes major renewables report

A new independent study examines the future of renewable electricity technology in the UK

By Isabella Kaminski

The study by design consultancy Arup on behalf of the UK's Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) examined projected costs and deployment potential of various renewable electricity technologies up to the year 2030.

Data and analysis in the report will be used to inform renewables subsidies under the Government’s Renewables Obligation (RO) and feed-in tariffs.

The study examines the resource potential of renewable electricity technology in the UK from 2010 to 2030, assesses constraints to the expansion of these technologies and reviews generation costs and deployment potential. It looks at a variety of issues included supply chains, planning, grid and legal constraints and various renewable energy organisations were consulted to confirm the report's findings.

According to Arup, the UK could reach 35-56 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2020 if constraints on grid connection, planning and supply are relaxed sufficiently, with an additional 73-126 GW by 2030.

Renewable technologies are split into sub-categories. The findings include a positive view of offshore wind, which Arup says has very significant deployment potential (potentially 41 GW by 2030 under a medium estimate) from large-scale projects which will come into play after 2015. Onshore wind, by contrast, was found to have lower than previously expected deployment rates (potentially 17.3 GW by 2030).

Marine and hydro were found to have no differences to data in previous studies, with tidal stream seen as the most promising technology in the short term.

The outlook is still sunny for solar photovoltaic (PV), which was found to have very significant deployment potential of 16.6 GW by 2030 but with very high capital expenditure.

Meanwhile, geothermal was found to have low potential until 2020 but rising thereafter (especially for renewable heat) with a medium deployment forecast of 990 MW by 2030.

Charles Hendry, UK Energy Minister, says: “It is vital that our support for renewable electricity both encourages investment and represents value for money for consumers. This study provides a detailed picture of generation costs and deployment potential for a wide range of technologies to inform our work in this area.”

The full report, Review of the Generation Costs and Deployment Potential of Renewable Electricity Technologies in the UK, can be viewed on the DECC website.

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