September 15, 2021  /  News

The Path to Net Zero

The UK’s Renewable Energy Progress in 2021

Every year, the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) publishes a report on the UK’s renewable energy sector, which maps out the progress on the path to net zero. 

Although the UK government has made historic climate promises over the last year, the REview 2021 report (pdf) suggests that delivery on those promises has been too slow. New climate strategies have been shrouded in uncertainty and the report warns that without additional investment and policy support, the UK will not meet its targets. 

However, while some areas have underperformed, renewable heat generation, dominated by bioenergy sources, has grown steadily. The power sector is another area that has performed strongly, with 34.85% of its energy now coming from renewable sources. 

Biomass is a vital renewable power-generating technology

The most recent figures available show that in 2019, 12.3% of all of the UK’s energy consumption came from renewable sources. While that represents continued growth, it falls short of the country’s 15% target by 2020 that was set out in the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. 

The power sector was the main driver of this transition to renewable sources, with more than one-third of all of its energy coming from renewables. Of that, wind was the largest contributor, accounting for 53% of all the renewable power generation in the UK. 

Perhaps surprisingly, biomass was the next largest source of renewable power, growing by 8% over the year and producing more than 25,000GWh in total. That means biomass now produces more renewable energy than hydro, shoreline and tidal generation combined. 

Bioenergy dominates renewable heat generation

The government unveiled its 10-point plan for the decarbonisation of heat in November 2020. It set out a goal of installing 600,000 heat pumps in homes across the UK. However, the Green Homes Grant that was launched in September 2020 to support that drive was shelved just six months later

That goes a long way to explaining the diminishing growth rates in renewable heat generation and why the installation of heat pumps and solar thermal energy has been largely stagnant since 2015. Instead, the lion’s share of renewable heat generation has come from bioenergy sources, which accounted for 79.9% of total renewable heat generation in 2019.  

Anaerobic digestion sees steady growth 

Anaerobic digestion power generation is one example of where the growth of renewable power has continued steadily, rising by 4% between 2018 and 2019. That growth rate has remained relatively consistent for the last three years, with annual generation from AD expected to surpass 3,000 GWh by 2020. 

As well as providing us with renewable gas and electricity, the AD process also generates a nutrient-rich digestate product, which can be applied to agricultural land as a valuable fertiliser. That provides an additional benefit to the UK environment. However, despite the continued growth, anaerobic digestion stands at 92% of the government’s target and is unlikely to meet the Updated Energy Projections (UEP) from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). 

Progress is being made but just not quickly enough

If the government is serious about reaching its net zero ambitions, then it’s clear that more needs to be done. While progress is being made, the growth rate of renewable energy sources has stalled over the last few years, with many government initiatives being poorly delivered or withdrawn altogether. 

According to Olly Neil, managing director of OJ Neil Contracting, “The time for talking is over. If we are to meet the ambitious targets the government has set, then now is the time for action. We want to see the government really back our sector, remove the barriers that are preventing growth and help us to deliver new jobs and investment.”  

At OJ Neil Contracting, we supply power plants across the south east with quality biomass fuels and harvest energy crops for nine fully operational anaerobic digestion plants. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you meet your renewable energy goals.

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. View more
Cookies settings
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookies policy
Cookie name Active

Who we are

Our website address is: https://ojneilcontracting.co.uk.

What personal data we collect and why we collect it


When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.

An anonymized string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: https://automattic.com/privacy/. After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.


If you upload images to the website, you should avoid uploading images with embedded location data (EXIF GPS) included. Visitors to the website can download and extract any location data from images on the website.

Contact forms


If you leave a comment on our site you may opt-in to saving your name, email address and website in cookies. These are for your convenience so that you do not have to fill in your details again when you leave another comment. These cookies will last for one year.

If you visit our login page, we will set a temporary cookie to determine if your browser accepts cookies. This cookie contains no personal data and is discarded when you close your browser.

When you log in, we will also set up several cookies to save your login information and your screen display choices. Login cookies last for two days, and screen options cookies last for a year. If you select "Remember Me", your login will persist for two weeks. If you log out of your account, the login cookies will be removed.

If you edit or publish an article, an additional cookie will be saved in your browser. This cookie includes no personal data and simply indicates the post ID of the article you just edited. It expires after 1 day.

Embedded content from other websites

Articles on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.


Who we share your data with

If you request a password reset, your IP address will be included in the reset email.

How long we retain your data

If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognize and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

For users that register on our website (if any), we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

What rights you have over your data

If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

Where we send your data

Visitor comments may be checked through an automated spam detection service.

Your contact information

Additional information

How we protect your data

What data breach procedures we have in place

What third parties we receive data from

What automated decision making and/or profiling we do with user data

Industry regulatory disclosure requirements

Save settings
Cookies settings