Onsite renewables now worth almost £40m a year

Posted on 25 Jun 2013

Soaring energy bills and growing environmental concerns have seen increased investment in onsite renewable energy projects developed by manufacturers.

The renewable energy projects developed by manufacturers are now generating a total of almost £40m worth of electricity a year, according to research from SmartestEnergy.

Increasing energy costs have lead to continued growth in renewable energy project investment. The total number in operation expanding 53% during 2012 to 327 and reaching £81m in value.

Figures from SmartestEnergy’s Energy Entrepreneurs report 2013 also revealed there are now 94 larger-scale renewable generation projects operating in the sector across Great Britain with a combined capacity of over 190MW.

growth in number of projects by technology
Growth in number of projects by technology

The number of commercial-scale independent generation projects increased by 24% during 2012 to a total of 2,011. Meaning there were 392 projects more than the previous year.

The biggest growth was seen in farm-based schemes, with a 74% increase to 347 projects.

Onshore wind accounting for the bulk of energy produced by farm projects, making up 63% of all farm-based schemes.

The 458 wind projects in operation are now generating an estimated £228m worth of electricity a year (enough to power more than 1.15 million homes).

In terms of project numbers, solar still accounts for the largest share totalling 528 schemes with a combined capacity of 322 MW.

Solar is responsible for 10% of all onsite generation capacity and makes up 1 in 4 of all independently owned energy projects.

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Developers also continue to invest heavily in new projects with a 10% increase in installed capacity seen in 2012. Although the number of 50kW+ community schemes is relatively small, the report showed an 18% increase in project numbers to 45 during the year.

Number of projects by technology
Number of projects by technology

Projects of 50kW capacity and over in manufacturing include a 17,000-panel solar array at Toyota’s site in Derby; wind turbines at GlaxoSmithKline’s pharmaceutical plant at Barnard Castle and a biomass facility at McCain Foods site in Peterborough.

The food and drink sector currently accounts for more than two-thirds of total manufacturing onsite capacity.

Iain Robertson, head of generation at SmartestEnergy, said both businesses and consumers are becoming “increasingly interested” in the sustainability and environmental credentials of companies.

“Rising energy prices and the introduction of financial subsidy schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff have sparked huge interest in the development of onsite renewable generation projects.

“For businesses faced with steep rises in energy costs, investing in their own renewable energy projects can generate significant savings and help them remain competitive.

“Consumers are also increasingly interested in the sustainability of companies which they buy products from and investing in renewable energy can be used to highlight environmental credentials.”