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UK renewable energy targets ‘unachievable’

The UK’s target to produce 15 per cent of its energy consumption from renewable sources is “unachievable” unless the government makes major changes to policy that encourage large-scale generation, micro-generation and energy efficiency.

That’s according to a report, out today, by peers on the influential House of Lords EU Committee. The UK’s 15 per cent target is part of the European Commission’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent and increase the proportion of energy consumption from renewables to 20 per cent by 2020.

Greenbang has had a quick look at the full report and here are the main concerns raised:

  • In the push to meet the target, emerging renewable technologies may be neglected and investment may not be aimed at the most cost-effective renewable generation technologies over the long term
  • The EC’s Guarantee of Origin certification scheme, to allow allowing member states to count energy generated in another country, has the potential to undermine efforts to increase renewable energy generation domestically
  • The target date of 2020 may lead to the EU becoming reliant on existing renewable technologies, particularly wind power
  • One of the principal barriers to the UK meeting its target is the problems experienced by renewable generators in gaining access to the electricity grid
  • The current condition of the supply chain means that there is simply not the industrial capacity to increase the UK’s renewable generation fast enough, regardless of the wishes of energy suppliers
  • Another significant barrier to achieving the UK’s renewables target is the planning system, for things such as wind farms

The report also makes a series of recommendations to the government. The main ones are:

  • Increased support for renewable technologies research
  • Reducing absolute level of final energy consumption should be the starting point of the government’s strategy for meeting the 2020 target
  • The government increase grants available for microgeneration and introduce support aimed specifically at encouraging renewable heat
  • The government must provide support to bring emerging technologies to commercial viability as quickly as possible
  • Renewable generators should be allowed to connect to the grid ahead of grid capacity upgrades. New grid should be built ahead of firm commitments from renewable generators where it is likely that new grid will be needed
  • The Government should apply the provisions of the Electricity Act 1989 to all renewable generation projects to allow it to overrule local planning objections

The report says:

“We believe that the scale of the challenge for the UK should not be underestimated. We believe that the target is unachievable unless the government take quick and decisive action on all fronts.”

The full Lords EU Committee report ‘The EU’s Target for Renewable Energy: 20 per cent by 2020’ is available in PDF here.

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