The 10 best renewable moments of 2017

 
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It’s been an amazing year for green energy. In fact, 2017 has been the greenest year ever in the UK! Here are 10 of our favourite renewable moments.

 

1. The cost of renewables hits a record low

The Government energy auction on 11 September blew everyone away. Nobody predicted how cheap wind power would become. The price of offshore wind came in at just £57.50 per megawatt hour. That’s the same as conventional gas, and much cheaper than nuclear. 

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this moment. It exploded the myth that you could have green energy or cheap energy, but not both at once. As Bulb co-founder Hayden told WIRED: "Now we no longer need to burn things to generate power."

 

2. Britain has its first coal-free day since 1882

On Friday 21 April the UK went a full 24 hours without using any coal to generate electricity. It was the first time that’s happened since the world's first centralised public coal-fired generator opened in London in 1882!

The watershed moment was followed by a summer of green British records. Between June and September over half (52%) of electricity generation was met by low carbon sources, compared with 35% four years ago. And on a sunny Friday in May solar power produced a best-ever 8.7 gigawatts, about a quarter of the total UK generation.

 

3. Scotland launches world’s biggest tidal energy turbine...

The world’s largest tidal energy turbine was launched by Scotrenewables in May. The 550 tonne machine will add to Scotland’s already huge tidal energy production. In August the tidal power station in the Pentland Firth generated 700 megawatt-hours of electricity, a world record amount for a single month.

 
The 2MW SR2000, the world’s largest energy generating tidal turbine. Source: Scotrenewables Tidal Power

The 2MW SR2000, the world’s largest energy generating tidal turbine. Source: Scotrenewables Tidal Power

 

4. ...And sets a wind energy record

Yep, Scotland smashed it this year.

In the first six months of the year Scottish wind turbines produced enough power to meet the average electrical needs of 124% of Scottish homes. That was a 24% increase on the previous record from 2015. Mindblowing!

 

5. Britain’s first subsidy-free solar farm opens

September saw the opening of the Clayhill solar farm near Flitwick, Bedfordshire. The site has over 30,000 solar panels and is able to generate 10 megawatts of power. That’s enough electricity for 2,500 homes.

But what makes it a landmark is that it was built by private company Anesco without any kind of government subsidy. Clayhill proves that falling costs and advances in technology mean the green energy industry really can thrive - with or without government support.

 
Clayhill solar farm. Source: Anesco.

Clayhill solar farm. Source: Anesco.

 

6. Costa Rica goes for 300 days on renewables

So we’ve been doing some amazing things in the UK this year. But if we need more inspiration we could look to Costa Rica.

In November the Central American country broke its own record by running for 300 consecutive days on 100% renewables - a mix of hydro, wind, geothermal, solar and biomass. (Oh, and in June it became the first country to pledge a national strategy to eliminate single-use plastics by 2021.)

 
Costa Rica - a green inspiration

Costa Rica - a green inspiration

 

7. Tech giants go green

This year Google became the world’s biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. It announced in December that it had hit its target of buying enough wind and solar to offset 100% of its energy consumption.

The tech giants really are getting behind green energy to power their huge data centres. Amazon now has six solar farms and four wind farms. Facebook started work this year on a wholly renewable-powered data centre in Ohio. And in July Apple announced that their $921 million data center in Denmark will be completely green. All are committed to eventually achieving 100% renewable energy.

 

8. Countries work together at Bonn

Forget the headlines about Donald Trump. The truth is that a lot of good came out of November’s UN Climate Summit in Bonn. A new alliance of 19 nations led by the UK has pledged to phase out coal. And in opposition to their own President, a huge group of US states, cities and businesses committed to emissions reduction goals.

 
Bonn 2017 - behind the headlines there was a lot of good work

Bonn 2017 - behind the headlines there was a lot of good work

 

9. Jaguar Land Rover goes electric

In September the iconic British automobile brand Jaguar Land Rover announced that all its new cars will be available in an electric or hybrid version from 2020.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. This was the year that virtually all the major car manufacturers committed to going electric, including Ford, VW, Toyota, Renault and many more. Even Lamborghini got in on the act. The days of the internal combustion engine are surely numbered!

 

10. Bulb hits 250,000 members

Well we couldn’t miss out this one, could we? Back in August Bulb had a party to celebrate signing up our 100,000th member. And then in November we had to celebrate all over again as we welcomed number 200,000! We've now gone past 250,000. 

Of course, that’s great for us. But we think it’s great for green energy too - we're so happy to have so many climate change heroes on board.

 
Celebrating 100,000 members in August - can't we have balloons every time we hit a milestone?

Celebrating 100,000 members in August - can't we have balloons every time we hit a milestone?

 

So those were our favourite green moments of 2017. Did we miss any? We'd love to hear yours. Drop us a line at hello@bulb.co.uk. We think it’s been an amazing year for renewables. Here’s to an even greener 2018!

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Andrew Nixon