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Independent energy takes its place on the grid

The number of commercial-scale independent renewable energy projects rose by 40 per cent in 2013, with almost £1million invested every day, according to Energy Entrepreneurs Report 2014, published by SmartestEnergy. This follows news that electricity generated from renewable sources has risen by 43 per cent in the last year. It’s clear that it’s far from just the biggest players who are driving this; it’s about power in numbers, as the report’s introduction is keen to stress:

"While in isolation these projects are relatively small, together they are playing an important role in helping meet Britain’s energy needs at a time when there are concerns over looming shortages in generation capacity. "Commercial-scale independent renewables are now capable of powering some 4.67m households, or enough to meet the power demands of the entire public sector.”

The public sector gets a few mentions in the report - appropriately, since council-backed renewable schemes are seeing a significant rise. With 95 commercial-scale projects now on the go, there is definitely room for further growth driven by enterprising local authorities. Across the UK’s nations, the biggest growth investment, volume, capacity and households powered by independent energy can be seen in Wales. Scotland leads on a number of projects. At county level, Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall have the most on the go.

As far as technologies go, wind is still on top (it’s a windy island after all) , in particular the 46 per cent growth experienced by anaerobic digestion. Community energy schemes under 50kW are not covered in the report - but they too are seeing support. With a range of funding options available and a sense of optimism growing in the sector at large, hopefully similar year-on-year gains will be soon seen, with the attendant benefits for localities that community participation in energy supply brings. It’s important that businesses and organisations of all sizes get a stake in Britain’s energy future - and individuals play a part too. With steep targets to hit, it seems things are moving in the right direction at some pace.

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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