The amount of electricity generated from bioenergy in the UK rose by a quarter in 2014, according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The department’s latest annual UK energy statistics show that renewable sources accounted for 19.1% of total electricity generation in the UK in 2014, up from 14.8% in 2013 (chart, below).
DECC says the conversion of a coal firing unit to biomass at the Drax power plant in 2014 was the most significant single factor in the increase in bioenergy production.
Bioenergy, which includes biomass and landfill gas, accounted for 72% of the total renewable energy production (chart, above).
While electricity generation from landfill gas fell by 115GWh in 2014, a 2.2% reduction from 2013, it still accounted for more than 12% of renewable energy fuel use.
Despite the rising use of renewables, the UK trails the EU, which gets 28% of its power generation from this source.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) increased substantially by 287GWh, a 40% rise from 2013, following a record year for the sector with the construction of more than 100 plants.
The chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, Charlotte Morton, said: “The 40% leap in electricity generated by anaerobic digestion electrical capacity outside of the water industry in 2014 shows how the UK’s AD market has taken off over the past year.
“As intermittent renewables such as wind and solar supply more of our electricity, AD complements their output through the generation of low carbon baseload or dispatchable power, helping to ensure we meet peaks in demand.”
But the AD sector has expressed concern that investors will shy away after the launch of a DECC consultation on the removal of pre-accreditation for feed-in-tariffs.
Between 2000 and 2010, the rate of growth in electricity generated from all renewables averaged 10% a year.
The main contributors to this were wind (27% a year on average), landfill gas (9%), small-scale hydro schemes (8%), sewage sludge digestion (7%) and energy from waste (6%).
When combined, electricity generated from all forms of bioenergy increased by an average of 12% annually between 2000 and 2010. Recent years have seen a switch away from co-firing, as the main generators have converted to biomass.