RES is leading the way in the drive towards a zero carbon society and meeting the UK’s renewable energy needs. We asked them about their plans and playing their part in the sustainability revolution.

You have built a development portfolio of over 2GW of Wind and Solar energy in the UK and RES has established itself as the world’s largest independent renewable firm, what do you attribute to your success?

RES’ vision is a future where everyone has access to affordable zero carbon energy and this has been central to driving our success.  As a global company we’ve have delivered more than 19GW of renewable energy projects across the globe and support an operational asset portfolio exceeding 7GW. 

You also oversee energy storage projects in the UK, what is the potential with that technology and how has it improved in recent years?

In 2014 we started working with National Grid in the UK to show how battery energy storage could play a role in supporting the network. We used our knowledge and skills from pioneering very fast frequency regulation services in Canada and USA to create a market opportunity in UK.  Fast forward to today and the UK now has over 1GW of storage.  Storage is a key technology in helping us meet net zero; with flexibility on the grid this is an enabler to more renewables. We’re seeing more hybrid projects (combining storage with wind or solar) and longer durations – both of these trends show how storage has evolved over the last few years.

How can a green recovery help the UK recover from the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis?

A green recovery, and one that focuses on deployment of shovel ready projects, will be good for our economy.  The renewables industry has continued to grow over the last year – supporting the nation at a critical time.  We already know that onshore wind is the cheapest form of new generation, alongside delivering decarbonisation at least cost it brings economic benefits and job opportunities.  Throughout 2020 we safely continued construction of Solwaybank Wind Farm in Scotland and supported £4.1m of inward investment locally through using local suppliers and contractors.  This is typical of all onshore wind projects – there are not only direct employment opportunities but a wide UK-based supply chain.    

What are some of the most significant areas where the UK has the potential to deepen its commitment to renewables?

We’re at a pivotal moment – we’ve had our sense of environmental awareness heighten over the last year and we are rapidly approaching COP26 in Glasgow.  We need to be looking at some of the barriers and how we can turn these into opportunities.  This means looking at how we can streamline our planning system and removing unnecessary hurdles for renewable technologies.  It also means being aware of unintended consequences of policies, particularly around grid and networks.  Attracting investment into the infrastructure that will help us achieve net zero is crucial, so we need to collectively look for the opportunities where we can up the pace of deployment.

RES were an early adopter of wind energy in the 1980s and 1990s, what developments in wind energy are likely to be the most transformative in coming decades?

We are going to continue to see developments in turbine technology – essentially enabling us to use more powerful turbines, but less of them on sites.  Being able to embrace the most modern efficient turbines in the UK is going to be key.  We are also seeing transformation in the industry through digitalisation, data analytics and Industry 4.0.  We manage 7GW of assets for a large client base.  Being able to understand the health of assets in real-time allows us to make more informed decisions, which can optimise projects.

What are you most looking forward to about speaking at the Sustainable Energy in Development Conference and what is RES most looking forward to sharing?

I’m really keen to be talking about onshore wind and how we can increase its deployment – it has a significant role in meeting net zero and also brings so many benefits for the UK.  It can support ‘build back better’ with ‘ready to go’ projects that can create jobs and bring economic opportunities into rural communities.