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What being a global leader of green energy means for Britain

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It may seem surprising – in fact it may even have passed you by – but over the past five years Britain has quietly confirmed its position as one of the world’s leaders in the production of green energy.

Admittedly, this is due to subsidies totalling more than £10bn. However, that said, 25% of electricity generated in the UK last year came from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, almost treble what it was in 2011.

Over the same period, renewable sources provided more power than the UK’s previous favourite source: coal.

This level of production pits Britain against Germany as to who can currently claim to be in pole position in the Energiewende (that’s the ‘green power revolution’ to a British audience), with the Germans announcing that 27% of their electricity came from renewable sources in 2014, a figure that climbed to 33% last year.

However, progress cannot be judged solely on numbers

Aside from the increase in green energy production, Britian’s leadership claim can be supported by the creativity of the projects that have underpinned its growth, including:

  • A rapid, nationwide re-appropriation of farming land for wind turbines and solar farms
  • The domestic installation of solar panels on more than 800,000 homes across the UK
  • The construction and launch of the Array wind farm in the Thames estuary
  • (And perhaps most bizarrely) Nestle’s in-house project to find a way to derive electricity from the leftovers from their confectionery production processes
Image from nestle.co.uk

Image from nestle.co.uk

The only trouble is the speed at which UK renewable energy production has grown has led to the government looking to cut the sector’s subsidies, even though the majority are paid for via consumer energy billing.

According to a government spokesman, the government is still committed to: “protect hard working families form higher energy bills” and say that the cuts are solely down to the fact that: “as the renewables sector advances, the cost of technologies such as solar has fallen and therefore so has our consumer-funded support.”

The spokesman also added – arguably somewhat confusingly – that the advancement of renewable energy is still very much on the agenda and: “for this to be sustainable long-term, it needs to be driven by competition and innovation, not subsidies.”

If you are an individual or business working within the energy sector and in need of legal advice, get in touch with one of our energy lawyers today. We have solicitors in Preston, Lancaster, Garstang, Kendal and Clitheroe. The team at our head Preston office can be contacted on 01772 258321 or email Katie.Kozlowska@harrison-drury.com.


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