The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcome recent energy figures that show renewable energy is providing the large majority of our energy needs, just as an international study shows that 72% of new energy infrastructure built in 2019 was in the renewable sector. As the UK and Ireland comes out of the Covid-91 outbreak and lockdown, NFLA calls for a ‘green energy and jobs’ stimulus that develops these positive outcomes even further.
This Sunday morning, wind energy provided 38.1% of UK’s electricity generation, with solar energy adding a further 23.4% of renewable energy. In comparison nuclear power provided 15.7% and fossil fuels just 15.1%. This is as energy demand has decreased by 10% due to the covid-19 outbreak. As a result of these changes, for the first time thousands of householders will be paid to use electricity. For example, households which use one of the Octopus Energy tariffs were contacted by the company to say they would be paid for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity they use during the sunniest hours of Sunday afternoon. (1)
In Ireland, it has just been reported that the Irish wind sector recorded a record year in 2019 after developers added 463 MW of new capacity to provided a third of the country’s electricity demand. The Irish Wind Energy Association’s commented that the 32.5% share of the Irish power mix is the second-best in Europe. Some 24 new wind farms were completed bringing the country’s total wind capacity to 4.1GW. (2) NFLA commented last week about welcome developments as well in Irish solar energy. (3)
Such statistics are backed up by new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). It shows that the renewable energy sector added 176 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity globally in 2019 – this accounted for 72% of all power expansion last year. In addition, total renewable energy growth outpaced fossil fuel growth by a factor of 2.6, continuing the dominance of renewables in power expansion first established in 2012. Solar and wind energy contributed 90 per cent of total renewable capacity added in 2019. (4)
As the world tackles the covid-19 outbreak, it is important not to forget that the climate emergency is much starker and will not be simply resolved with a lockdown. The way though all countries are dealing with this short-term crisis gives clear evidence that urgency can also be brought to the necessity of developing a zero carbon economy in the UK and Ireland by each government.
NFLA calls on a post covid-19 economic stimulus that focuses on the need to tackle the climate emergency. That includes enhancing the ongoing and impressive growth in renewable energy with support for local, decentralised energy solutions, battery storage, energy efficiency and smart energy. It also includes not spending limited resources on the tens of billions that would be required for new nuclear power stations through a model like the Revenue Asset Base, as consulted upon by the UK Government in late 2019.
All parts of the British and Irish Isles – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland need strong support from their central government to provide the resources and powers to support renewable generation, heating and transport, and at the local level it is Councils that can provide such a role.
UK and Ireland NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“It is noticeable that whilst energy demand may be currently lower, it is renewable energy that is driving forward in all parts of the British and Irish Isles, now and into the future. It needs to be noted as well that energy demand has continued to drop due to the benefits of energy efficiency over the past 15 years. As policymakers think about what may happen after this difficult covid-19 outbreak they should look at the positive role renewable energy is providing to powering our nations and support this even further so that we can tackle locally and nationally the climate emergency, and bring about a zero carbon future as soon as is practical.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for Editors:
(2) Renews.biz, 2nd March 2020
(3) NFLA media release, 27th March 2020
(4) IRENA media release, 6th April 2020