Renewables’ share of electricity generation has increased to record levels according to the latest government figures which claim that solar PV accounted for around 9% of renewable generation in 2015.

The data released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) yesterday suggests energy from renewables reached a record 83.3 TWh last year, representing almost a quarter (24.7%) of all electricity generation. This record achievement for renewables shows an increase of 28.8% from 2014 when renewables generated 19.1% of the country’s electricity.

By the end of the year this had increased further, with DECC’s figures showing that renewables’ share had reached 26.9% in the final quarter of 2015, up 5% from Q4 2014. At the end of Q4 2015, onshore wind and solar photovoltaics had the highest share of capacity at approximately 30% each.

However, this share increase was helped by an overall reduction in electricity generation, which was down by 2% compared to the year before. This had a 0.5% contribution to the 5% increase in the renewables share.

Solar PV capacity reportedly increased by 3.5 GW over the year, leading to the increase from 6.3% of renewable generation in 2014. The majority of this growth is said to have come from large scale sites under the Renewable Obligation, particularly in Q1 ahead of the early closure to these sites in April 2015.

The new figures also show that solar PV represented the majority of both installations (99%) and installed capacity (83%) confirmed on the feed-in tariff scheme at the end of Q4.

However, DECC has repeatedly revised upwards its deployment estimates having originally suggested just 3.1 GW had been installed in 2015. The increase noted in yesterday’s figures means DECC’s figures are drawing closer to the 3.9 GW estimate made by Solar Intelligence earlier this year.

Increased renewables deployment has also had an impact on consumer bills, with wholesale energy prices falling consistently throughout 2015 as renewable deployment rose. While the government claims to have cut subsidy payments – paid for through consumer bills – to keep household costs low, scaling back on this support could see overall prices rise.

As well as potentially failing to protect households from rising bills, the government could also be putting its own targets at risk. Despite this record breaking growth rate for overall clean energy, the Renewable Energy Association has claimed the government will still need to do more to increase capacity if it is to reach its legally binding 2020 renewable energy targets.

While it is expected that the target of 30% renewable electricity will be reached, continued failures in the decarbonisation of the heat and transport sectors means the government may need to overshoot its existing target. Analysis by the REA suggests instead that the UK will need to hit 44% to 45% sourced from renewables by 2020 to meet its overall binding target for the electricity sector.

This would require the 2015’s renewable electricity growth rate of 5% to continue year-on-year but following recent cuts to the FiT, the early closure of the RO to new solar and the scaling back of support for other renewable technologies, it is unclear how this will be achieved.

James Court, head of policy and external affairs at the REA said: “On the face of it, it appears that the government will meet its renewable electricity target of 30 per cent by 2020. In reality, due to the significant failure to increase the rate of renewables in the heating and transport sectors, the REA projects that we will clearly miss our overall renewable energy target.

“There is a desperate need for policy certainty and a clear electricity plan that doesn’t gamble everything on new nuclear, in addition to urgent action for renewable heat and transport.”