HORNSEA OFFSHORE WIND FARM, UK - 2016 JULY 15. Sunset with orang

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Exploring The History Of Renewable Energy In The UK

The importance of using renewable energy sources has become more prominent in popular media over the past few decades. We are all aware that the use of fossil fuels is impossible to sustain, especially if we want to make steps to take care of the planet! 


Where it may seem that the demand for renewable sources has increased dramatically recently, due to the fluctuations in the energy market, the history of renewable energy might surprise you – upon researching the foundations of renewable energy sources, we found that the desire to implement such changes has actually been around longer than you think!

So, when was renewable energy first introduced?

The UK has a long history of utilising renewable energy sources, dating back to the early 1900s when hydroelectric power was first generated in Scotland. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that renewable energy sources began to gain traction in the UK.

Hydro Electric Dam situated on Loch Laggan in the Highlands of S

Laggan Hydroelectric Dam, built in 1934, situated on Loch Laggan in the Highlands of Scotland.

One of the first major renewable energy projects in the UK was the opening of the Drax Power Station in Yorkshire in 1974. The power station used wood chips to generate electricity, making it one of the first bioenergy projects in the country.

In the 1980s, wind energy began to gain popularity in the UK. The first wind farm was built in Cornwall in 1991, and by the end of the decade, there were over 50 wind farms in operation throughout the country.

Drax Biomass Power Station, North Yorkshire

Drax Biomass Power Station, built in 1974, North Yorkshire.

The introduction of government energy schemes and obligations

The 1990s also saw the introduction of the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) scheme, which provided financial incentives for renewable energy projects. This scheme helped to spur growth in the renewable energy sector and encouraged the development of new technologies.

In April 2002, the UK government introduced the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme, which required electricity suppliers to source a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources. This scheme helped to further drive investment in renewable energy and led to the construction of many new wind farms and biomass power plants.

In recent years, solar power has also become increasingly popular in the UK. The government introduced the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme in 2010, which provided financial incentives for homeowners and businesses to install solar panels. While the scheme was closed to new applicants in 2019, the popularity of solar power has continued to grow.

The leader in offshore wind energy

Today, the UK is a leader in offshore wind energy and has some of the largest wind farms in the world. The country has also made significant progress in developing new technologies such as tidal power and geothermal energy.

HORNSEA OFFSHORE WIND FARM, UK - 2016 JULY 15. Sunset with orang

Hornsea 1, the largest offshore wind farm in the world, situated in the North Sea.

Overall, the UK’s history of renewable energy sources shows a commitment to reducing reliance on fossil fuels and promoting sustainable energy. With continued investment and development, renewable energy is poised to play an increasingly important role in the country’s energy mix in the years to come. 

The UK’s Net Zero strategy aims to decarbonise all sectors by 2050. With many government incentives available to businesses, and the pressure of reaching net zero, we encourage businesses to explore renewable energy sources; not only will it benefit the environment but it can reduce your energy expenditure long-term.

We make renewable energy solutions simple.

At RES, our Renewables Specialists can help you find out the most suitable renewable energy sources for your business, manage the installation, and help with maintenance and customer care. To find out more about your organisation can benefit from renewable energy sources, get in touch with our experts on 0800 989 0143 or book a consultation using the button below.


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