It would be easy to think that the renewable energy movement has lost momentum, particularly with some of the messages coming from government. However, there is strong grass-roots support for renewables, and many people are prepared to put their money where their principles are. This means that the capacity of renewable energy projects is actually growing very rapidly. The latest progress report from RegenSW shows that there are now 55,506 renewable electricity installations in the South West, producing a huge 525 MW. Of these, 8867 are in Dorset.

The majority of these projects are solar photovoltaic, 8820 of them in fact in Dorset, generating 26 MW of power. There are also 32 onshore wind installations in Dorset, two projects using gas from sewage and four using gas from landfills, one that produces energy from waste, five hydro projects generating electricity from water and three anaerobic digesters. With many more projects in the pipelines, these figures are set to climb steeply in the next few years.

In addition to electricity generation, there were over 5000 renewable heat projects in the South West, with 425 in Dorset. These include anaerobic digesters, biomass and solar thermal installations. In all, they have a capacity of 118 MW heat.

Renewable energy in the South West more than doubled in 2011/2012, bringing tens of millions of pounds of investment, and 10,000 jobs, an increase of over 5000 in just two years in very difficult times. The positive effect of renewable energy on the economy is no longer a future projection, but is happening now. The target is to create over 30,000 jobs in the sector in the South West by 2020.

The kind of microgeneration that these projects represent may not be the most efficient way of building renewable energy capacity – it would cost less overall for the government to build one huge offshore wind farm. However, the capacity can be installed so much more quickly than a large-scale project needing government-level decision-making and finance and, as can be seen from these figures, these projects together make a substantial contribution. Basically, without having to wait around for the government to make its mind up, we can get on with solving the problem ourselves. An added benefit is that the huge collection of diverse micro- and medium-sized installations will never be owned by a foreign multinational.

For the full figures from the Renewable Energy Progress Report and Annual Survey go to:

For more information about the renewable energy revolution just check out Dorset Energized’s Renewable Technology Options.