UK falls badly behind on renewable energy targets

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 02 Jul 2013 11:42
Low confidence remains in the UK renewable energy sector
Low confidence remains in the UK renewable energy sector

The UK is not on track to meet its 2020 European renewables targets, according to the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).

According to the annual update of EREC’s ‘Keep on Track’ project, the UK lies 25th out of 27 member states for renewables contribution.

The research work focused on eleven EU Member States; Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Among these, only three (Austria, Italy, Sweden) are expected to meet their 2020 targets. The consortium has serious doubts as to whether Bulgaria, Germany, Greece and Portugal will be able to meet theirs and Belgium, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom are expected to miss their targets altogether.

In addition, preliminary figures from the Renewable Energy Association (REA), show that the UK is the only member state in the project which did not achieve its first interim target under the directive by the end of 2011 (4.04% for 2011 to 2017).

The report identifies the barriers to the development of renewable energy sources (RES).

In the UK’s case they are listed as:

* Low confidence in the market due to mixed signals from the Government, uncertainty over the future of support measures and intense pressure to reduce costs.

• The lack of a clear plan and measures to support distributed generation. Uncertainty that grid extensions to capture remote resource will be made, or made in time.

• Obtaining planning permission is becoming increasingly difficult for some technologies, not helped by mixed signals from Government ministers.

• Developers and funders are concerned that the necessary quantity and quality of biomass fuel may not be available, at least at the current price, over the life of a biomass power plant project.

• Uncertainty over the future of support measures discourages companies from entering the sector and acquiring the necessary skills to undertake installations.

EREC President Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes said: "It's plain sailing for the 21 member states who have already achieved their 2017 targets in 2011.

"However, there are worrying signs on the horizon as current growth rates are insufficient to meet the 2020 targets. EU Member States should create and implement predictable and stable legislative frameworks for renewable energy sources."

He added: “The 2020 targets by their simple presence are providing growth and employment throughout Europe. The EU’s renewables sector directly and indirectly employs more than 1.2 million people, which represents a 30% increase in just two years.

“By 2020, 2.7 million people in the EU could be employed by the renewables sector. In 2017, there were 5.7 million jobs worldwide in renewable energy industries, and the potential for job creation continues to be a main driver for renewable energy policies”.

Following the results, the REA, which provides the EREC with data for the UK, called on the government to confirm its commitment to achieving the UK's 2020 target and "to end the mixed policy signals that have dominated the airwaves in recent times."

REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said: "While we appear to have narrowly missed the interim target, prospects for getting on track to meet 15% in 2020 seem remote."

"The effect of a steep drop in lending decisions taken in recent years will manifest itself, there will inevitably be a hiatus with the closure of the Renewables Obligation and the government seems to have gone lukewarm on renewable heat. The earlier than anticipated publication of strike prices is welcome but more work needs to be done to build investor confidence," added Hartnell.

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