Could PV output overtake other “renewable” generation sources in the UK in 2012?

I came across some interesting data (source DECC) on UK renewable energy capacity and output for last year.

First installed capacity.

Table 1. Capacity

Installed capacity (MW)

31/12/2010

31/12/2011

Capacity increase

Increase as %

Onshore wind

4,037

4,632

595

15%

Offshore wind

1,341

1,838

497

37%

Wave/tidal

3

3

0

0%

Solar PV

77

1,014

937

1219%

Hydro

1,648

1,660

12

1%

Landfill Gas

1,025

1,062

37

4%

Sewage gas

189

203

14

7%

Waste combustion

435

504

69

16%

Biomass

448

1,235

787

176%

Total

9,203

12,151

2,948

32%

Now look at the output in the following table.

Table 2. Output

Installed capacity (GWh)

31/12/2010

31/12/2011

Increase

Increase as %

Onshore wind

7,137

10,416

3279

46%

Offshore wind

3,044

5,109

2065

68%

Wave/tidal

2

1

-1

-61%

Solar PV

33

259

225

678%

Hydro

3,603

5,694

2091

58%

Landfill Gas

5,037

5,345

308

6%

Sewage gas

702

755

53

8%

Waste combustion

1,594

1,732

137

9%

Co-firing

2,506

3,061

555

22%

Biomass

2,076

2,383

307

15%

Total

25,734

34,755

9,019

35%

When I came across this data a number of things stood out.

  • Onshore wind isn’t completely useless even in a “still” year (2010) it produces a lot of electricity.
  • However Offshore wind is disproportionately effective.
  • The increase in PV electricity output has been massive and the data doesn’t do it justice.  Most capacity was added in late 2011 to beat the FIT cut deadline.  As I posted above the PV output in the first quarter of 2012 was 0.17TWh (170GWh).
  • This made me wonder could PV output overtake anything else in that table this year?  The first three months are not the best in terms of PV output and something like 500MWp of new capacity has been added since (and the year is not over).

It seems unlikely that PV will overtake either type of wind output yet, but it should overtake the lower entries in the table such as sewage gas and waste combustion and with a few more years of the current installation rate be lapping around hydro.

Quick update I’m going to stick my neck out and say PV electricity production in the UK will be close to 2TWh in the UK in 2012.

Encouraging, but as I have said before electricity is the easy bit of peak oil…

Neil

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