Independent renewables continue to deploy despite changing circumstances

Despite dwindling subsidy support and construction delays due to Covid-19, independent generation still deployed 75.4MW of capacity in 2020, according to a report.

On 29 September, SmartestEnergy published Smart Generation: State of the Market Report 2020, where it stressed the future remains positive for the deployment of independent renewables. As the UK targets net zero by 2050, it forecast the independent sector could account for 84-148GW of low carbon and renewable generation. It noted that increasingly, project developers have been looking towards merchant revenue models, co-location with battery storage and innovative contract structures to achieve such a vision.

It set out that the overall capacity of independent renewable generation becoming operational peaked halfway through the decade, slowing down following the closure of the RO and FiT schemes. In 2019, the lowest deployment of independent renewables was recorded since 2010. The sector accounts for 59.9% of total operational capacity across all renewable generation and has more than trebled since 2010, reaching 24.8GW.

The report also set out how record low levels of demand, together with the closure of workplaces across the UK in response and favourable weather conditions for renewables left National Grid having to require generation to down to manage the system. It called on the Balancing Mechanism and Optional Downward Flexibility Management to do this – a newly introduced service. Across Spring Bank Holiday Weekend, over 68GW of generation was turned down and as more renewables connect to the grid and demand-side energy efficiency improves, such scenarios are expected to become commonplace.

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