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What challenges renewable energy in the UK market?

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Renewable energy is steadily grown in the UK market in recent years, due to various policy support, technological innovation, cost reductions, and public demand.

The latest trends in renewable energy resources in the UK market are: –

  • 40% of the renewable energy sources of the UK’s electricity generation in 2022, resulted in a record high with an increase of 5% from 2021. The main sources of renewable electricity are Solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower, with offshore wind showing the most growth. The UK is also a net exporter of electric power for the first time in over a decade due to a renewable energy surplus.
  • Renewable energy jobs grew four times faster than the rest of the UK employment market in 2022. According to Indeed data, renewable energy jobs grew four times faster than the rest of the UK employment market in 2022. In 2022, the number of green jobs increased by 2.2% compared with 0.5% for all jobs. The most in-demand roles were for solar installers, wind turbine technicians, and electricians. The green job market is dominated in London accounting for 40% of all postings.
  • In 2021, according to the latest statistics from Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), renewable energy capacity and generation continued to increase with renewable sources accounting for 37.1% of the UK’s electricity generation in 2019, up from 33.1% in 2018, and 6.8% in 2010. Wind power is also the largest source of renewable electricity, followed by solar PV and bioenergy.

However, the renewable energy market in the UK is not without its challenges along with its opportunities, in its transition to a low-carbon and secure energy system.

The main challenges faced in the renewable energy sector in the UK market are:-

  • Network Challenges: The electricity grid in the UK is aging and inflexible, and needs to be upgraded and modernized to accommodate the rising share of variable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. The challenges involved more investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure, smart grid technologies, demand-side response, and interconnection with other countries.
  • Decarbonization challenges: Net zero emissions by 2050 is reached by the commitment from the UK, which means that all sectors of the economy need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. It is not just the power sector, but also the heating, transport, and industrial sectors, with heavily relying on fossil fuels. It requires more deployment of renewable energy technologies as well as energy efficiency, electrification, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.
  • Decentralization challenges: The renewable energy market in the UK is more decentralized with more consumers and communities generating their electricity from rooftop solar panels, small wind turbines, or other sources. It is posed with various challenges for the grid operators, who need to balance supply and demand at different scales and locations, as well as for the market design and regulation, which is needed to ensure fair access and pricing for all participants.
  • Energy storage challenges: A key enabler in Energy storage is for integrating more renewable energy into the grid, as it can help smooth out the fluctuations in supply and demand to provide ancillary services and enhance the security of supply. Still, the energy storage capacity in the UK is still limited and expensive with barriers such as lack of clear policy support, regulatory uncertainty, and high upfront costs.
  • Consumption challenges: The renewable energy market depends on the behavior and preferences of the consumers, with an influence on the demand for electricity and heat, as well as the uptake of renewable energy technologies. Consumers also face challenges such as lack of awareness, information, and trust, high upfront costs, payback periods, split incentives, and behavioral biases.

Well, in my opinion, the challenges, showcases that the UK’s market growth in the renewable energy sector is a remarkable journey, and with more policies the market is going to hit a new growth for more clean energy.

Sources: Renewable Energy market update, University of Oxford, Future of UK Energy, UK’s Energy Crisis, World Economic Forum, Energy Trends, The Guardian

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