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Christmas renewable share shows 'green energy' potential

After the all-round shock to the system that was last year, we're all in need of some positive news to start 2017 – and it comes in the form of some belated good cheer from Christmas. Analysis by Drax shows that 40 per cent of electricity on Christmas Day came from renewable sources.

A shining example

Arguably even more interestingly, while 75 per cent of this amount came from wind power – not all that surprising—most of the remaining quarter came from solar PV.

There really has been a solar revolution in the UK, and many people in the industry, if told five years ago the strides the technology would make on this wet and windy island, might not have believed you.

Wind turbines

Positive trend under threat

The Christmas statistics highlight just what renewables can do when you give them a chance to thrive. Sadly, there have been some concerns raised that such chances may not be on offer in the coming years.

New research from Green Alliance has suggested that green energy investments could drop 95 per cent over the next three years. These are stark figures, pointing to the likely impact of Feed-in Tariff cuts and planning changes for wind and delivered at a crucial time.

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Hope remains for renewable recovery

But all is possibly not quite as bleak as it seems. With solar PV getting so close to grid parity, it could well make a comeback within the next few years after an initial drop.

If planning rules change, wind could make a comeback UK-wide. It probably already has a great chance of doing so in Wales and Scotland, where planning is devolved to governments that have shown commitment to carbon reduction.

The report also highlights the broader trend of the private sector moving money away from carbon intensive infrastructure and towards more sustainable assets. It's clear that green energy does not need to have massive 'carrots' on offer for a boom to happen – just modest support and smart legislation.

As the UK re-frames its relationship with Europe and the world, and lays out its plans to hit the targets demanded by the Paris climate agreement, it's fair to say we'll have a clearer picture where energy priorities lie by Christmas this year.

If you're based in Scotland, try the free Renewables Selector Tool to find out which technologies might be most suited to your home.

Learn more about the Feed-in Tariffs (FiTS). Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or tweet @EnergySvgTrust

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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