80% of the UK are concerned about climate change1. People want to know how to reduce their impact. Renewable energy is an important way to help the UK reach net zero. So, we answer some of the top questions on renewable energy.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is power generated by resources that do not run out, like the wind and sun. They also do not emit greenhouse gases which contribute to global heating.
There are five main types of renewable energy:
- Wind power
- Solar power
- Geothermal power
- Hydroelectric power
- Biomass power
Is renewable energy more expensive?
Wind and solar are the cheapest power sources in the UK. However, other factors impact the price that we pay for electricity.
The costs of all forms of electricity generation depend on:
- the fuel costs
- the power plant’s operating cost
- the cost of building the plant
The cost of generating electricity from coal and gas is driven mostly by its fuel and operating costs.
Wind farms and solar parks don’t have fuel. Their cost is driven mostly by the build cost and operating costs. Their operating costs are relatively low, around 2p/kWh2.
There has been rapid development in green technology in the last decade. The price of solar has dropped by 89% and the cost of wind has dropped by 70%3.
The price of wind and solar are predicted to decrease further with increased scale and innovation.
What renewable energy does the UK use?
In 2022, the UK’s electricity generation mix was as follows4:
2020 was the first year ever that most electricity came from renewable energy in the UK. 43% of our power came from a mix of wind, solar, bioenergy and hydropower.
How does renewable energy prevent climate change?
Burning fossil fuels like coal and gas to generate electricity releases greenhouse gases.
These greenhouse gases absorb heat and radiate it back to the earth’s surface. This contributes to global heating.
Renewable energy, on the other hand, doesn’t add any more carbon to the atmosphere. With less greenhouse gases, there is less heat radiation. Therefore, there is less increase in global heating.
Can clean energy replace fossil fuels?
Yes! However, more renewable energy projects are needed. Renewable energy sources are intermittent. This means we will need a selection of projects that, together, provide stable generation throughout the year. We also need increased energy storage and more flexible demand patterns. This ensures demand is focused on times when renewable energy is abundant and less when it’s not.
Wind farms tend to generate more electricity in the winter. Solar panels tend to generate more electricity in the summer. With technology and storage advances, we can generate cheaper, greener power year-round.
Moving to an electricity-based energy system is a key part of the UK reaching its net zero ambitions. This means moving to electric cars instead of petrol and diesel, and to electric heat pumps to heat our homes instead of gas and oil. All of that needs to then run on zero carbon electricity.
Currently, ground-mounted solar panels take up just 0.1% of the land in the UK. The UK is likely to need to increase this to 0.3% (around half the land currently being used for golf courses5) to reach net zero.
More renewables across Britain has resulted in our zero-carbon power growing from less than 20% in 2020, to over 50% in 20226.
How can I support renewable energy?
Renewables benefit our planet and our electricity bills. So, what can we do to see an increase in clean energy generation?
- Own part of a renewable energy project. With Ripple, you can part-own a large scale solar park or wind farm. You’ll be directly contributing towards the generation of more green energy. Then, you’ll benefit from your own supply of cheap, green electricity to power your home for the whole of the project’s lifetime.
- Choose a genuinely green electricity tariff. For a truly green tariff, choose a supplier that directly contracts with renewable energy generators. They use the money from their customers’ green tariffs to build new renewable energy projects.
- Install rooftop solar panels. If you have the budget and are living in a suitable property, home solar is a great option. You can use the power generated directly from your rooftop panels to supply your home. Your home will be powered by your own green energy. You’ll also be protected from energy market price spikes.
- Join a community energy project. Over 5000 community energy groups have started up in the UK in the past five years7. The different projects include installing community-owned solar panels, jointly switching to renewable heat sources, or adopting home energy efficiency measures. These projects reduce the overall electricity demand and generate more green energy.
To benefit from your own source of green energy, or to increase your ownership to make even more savings, join the reservation list for Ripple’s next project. Click here to find out more.
- DESNZ PUBLIC ATTITUDES TRACKER Summer 2023
- BEIS’s Energy and Emissions Predictions 2022 (2021-40)