Mixed fortunes for UK and France

There were contrasting moods among renewable energy advocates in the UK and France this week, as latest statistics offered cause for celebration and concern respectively.

In Britain a new record monthly 11% share of the UK’s electricity for wind was set in February, National Grid figures showed – enough to power more than 6.5 million homes.

The UK wind fleet produced 2.7 terawatt hours in February, helping to push the source past the previous record set in December 2013 of a 10% share.

Industry body Renewable UK’s deputy chief executive Maf Smith hailed the new record, and said that harnessing wind was “vital” to Britain becoming “less reliant on expensive imported energy from volatile international energy markets”.

France, however, this week saw the release of 2013 government figures showing that new wind installations dropped 30% to 535MW last year compared with 2012, while new solar fell 45% to 613MW.

Analysts said uncertainty over reforms to energy policy and a review of renewables subsidies had hit installations.

And there is growing concern over France’s ability to hit its 23% 2020 renewables share target, with wind and solar meeting 4% of total demand last year.

Jean-Louis Bal, president of the Renewable Energy Association (SER), said: "The development of support mechanisms must not jeopardise the objective of 23% renewable energy mix in France in 2020, the achievement of which seems increasingly difficult without the implementation of a real recovery plan for renewable energy."