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How Much Of The UK’s Energy Comes From Wind & Solar

September 18, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


Robin Guenier asked how much wind and solar power were contributing to the UK’s overall energy consumption.

According to DECC’s latest energy trends, wind, solar and hydro added up to only 2.4% of primary energy consumption last year.





According to DUKES, hydro’s share was 0.3%, leaving 2.1% for wind and solar.

  1. September 18, 2016 6:42 pm

    Paul yesterday you quoted Lomborg “yet wind and solar provide just 1.7 per cent – and all renewables just 6.3 per cent – of UK energy.” linking to the OECD – Renewables balance
    Which is behind a paywall “Access to this dataset is restricted.The databases below are available to OECD iLibrary subscribers.”

    • September 18, 2016 6:54 pm

      Ah yes Robin said that seemed like a 2014 stat, so 2.4 accounts for growth.
      Remember that burning rubbish is about the largest renewable, but Greenblob would have you believe it’s wind/solar.

      I think this is an interesting analogy
      The Mad Green/Lefties : “100% Carbon Free electricity is the way to go ”
      The Mad Green/Lefties : “Trump’s Wall what a mad impossibility !”

      When in practice unless countries have masses of hydro even 50% renewables is practically unlikely.never mind the impossibility of 90 to 100%

    • September 18, 2016 10:00 pm

      OECD keeps sending me round in circles too!

      But it seems to give figures for 2014, which would be a bit less than DECC’s 2015 numbers.

      Also there may be differences in how aviation and shipping are treated. DECC’s numbers are INLAND only.

  2. Robin Guenier permalink
    September 18, 2016 9:02 pm

    Thanks, Paul. As I observed on the previous post, 2.1% is rather more than Bjorn Lomborg’s claimed 1.7%. But it’s still a pitifully small contribution in the light of the £4.7 billion of subsidies payable this year. See Figure 3.2 here:

    • September 19, 2016 9:26 am

      Just looking again at the numbers, Lomborg appears to be using the 2014 data

  3. September 18, 2016 9:39 pm

    ‘Robin Guenier asked how much wind and solar power were contributing to the UK’s overall energy consumption.’

    At the likely peaks of electricity consumption i.e. around tea-time on the coldest winter days, the contribution of solar will be zero – guaranteed.

  4. John F. Hultquist permalink
    September 18, 2016 9:58 pm

    waste and/or rubbish ?!

    It is producing a valuable commodity – electricity or heat.
    Perhaps a new name is called for.

    When I was young the town had a dump** and, also, garbage-men (no women).
    Now we have a transfer-station, a sanitary landfill, and waste management specialists (women allowed).
    **We would go to the dump and shoot rats and, at night, watch black bears.

    The waste and rubbish business isn’t what it was in the 1950s.

    Cullet is crushed glass ready for remelting and reuse.
    Wasullet or Rubbellet might do but are unwieldy.
    Wullet might work, maybe with the pronunciation of Cabernet — say, Woolae.
    Suggestions encouraged.

  5. It doesn't add up... permalink
    September 18, 2016 10:41 pm

    BP Statistical Review gives the following numbers for 2015:

    Total primary energy 191.2mtoe
    Renewables 17.4mtoe of which
    Solar 1.7mtoe
    Wind 9.2 mtoe
    Hydro 1.4mtoe (not included in Renewables)
    Nuclear 15.9mtoe

    Note that for electricity not from “normal” thermal plants (nuclear, wind, solar, hydro) they calculate mtoe on a primary basis by considering a 38% efficient thermal plant as the notional input basis.

    So wind and solar can be viewed either as 10.9/191.2, or 5.7%, or
    (38% of 10.9) / (191.2 – 62% of 28.2), or 2.4% (assuming the rest of renewables is thermal)

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      September 18, 2016 10:46 pm

      N.B. BP take no explicit account of power imports – which are essentially nuclear from France and coal fired from the Netherlands.

  6. September 19, 2016 1:11 am

    Current (sic) usage and supply:

  7. NeilC permalink
    September 19, 2016 5:21 am

    Based on the above electricity consumption being 37% of UK energy consumption my figure of 5,4% of grid demand (my comment September 18, 2016 2:50 pm) would represent 1.998% of UK energy consumpti.on.

    Robin, if you want a spread sheet of my work, Paul has my email address.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      September 19, 2016 7:15 am

      Your workings are especially useful in that they provide an independent confirmation (1.998%) of Paul’s DECC figure (2.1%). That’s close enough for me. So thanks.

  8. Robin Guenier permalink
    September 19, 2016 8:08 am

    This has been so helpful (and interesting) that I thought I’d impose on you all with another (related) question.

    One greenie objection to fracking is that it means the industrialisation of our precious countryside. That seems to me to be a bit rich coming from people who want to erect monstrous wind turbines on large areas of the same countryside and/or to smother it with solar panels. But what are the facts? How much land is used to produce energy from shale gas compared with that needed for the equivalent amount of energy from (a) wind and (b) solar?

    I appreciate that there are difficulties about this. For example, the necessity or otherwise of including, as well as the fracking site, the CCGT power plant (although that wouldn’t I suggest be relevant if it was constructed in a pre-existing industrial area) – and offshore wind is probably best ignored, although it has its own problems. But I would have thought it might be possible to calculate the acreage required to produce, say, 100 MW of power per fuel type. Any thoughts?

    PS: this would seem to be the sort of issue David MacKay might have considered.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        September 19, 2016 3:50 pm

        Thanks Paul. This discussion has inspired me to do a little Google-based research. And I’ve found a lot of interesting material – much of it BTW on your blog. But perhaps the most directly relevant to my question was this article, based on the concept of “power density”, by Robert Wilson: How big would a wind farm need to be to power London?LINK. His answer, referring only to electric power, is “more land than London itself“. He concludes with some useful comments on “community renewables”.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        September 19, 2016 4:27 pm

        I should perhaps have noted that Wilson said that, in contrast, the same power “could be supplied by a couple of big coal or nuclear power plants“.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      September 19, 2016 10:16 am

      “How much land is used to produce energy from shale gas compared with that needed for the equivalent amount of energy from (a) wind and (b) solar?”

      A partial answer is contained in this picture from Germany:

      Apparently there are more fracking wells than turbines. Try counting them all!

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      September 19, 2016 12:54 pm

      James Verdon has a nice illustration in relation to solar here:

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      September 19, 2016 1:00 pm

      I like to point out that the half a dozen sites of the Wytch Farm oilfield will have produced more energy than the lifetime output of every onshore windfarm in the UK. One of the key points about Wytch Farm of course is its extensive use of horizontal drilling, which is the key to reducing the above ground footprint of fracking. Its furthest reach wells are 11km from the rig – and were a record when drilled in the 1990s.

      Also, by doing extended reach drilling, they avoided having to set up an unsightly rig in Bourenmouth Bay: the Navitus windfarm proposal was turned down because it would have spoiled that view.

  9. September 19, 2016 9:06 am

    I drove past two wind turbines today, a day of negligible wind over most of the UK (only 0.8 GW on grid watch), one was turning, the other not, pretty strong evidence that the rotating one was CONSUMING power, a fact never mentioned on the BBC, which instead had a long propaganda piece about the Arctic voyages of the ship Northabout.

  10. tom0mason permalink
    September 19, 2016 9:11 am

    But as the greenies say “It’s all free energy” so it must be cheap, eh?


  11. Gerry, England permalink
    September 19, 2016 1:00 pm

    There is a good example of what an operating fracking site would be like if you take the Wytch Farm oilfield in Dorset. It has been churning away for decades – I did some pumps for it back in the late 80s. Once the exploration is done it will have a minimal footprint.

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