EU casts doubt on UK meeting renewables target

2nd February 2017

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  • Renewable ,
  • EU ,
  • UK government


Eleanor Stewart

The UK needs to make a ig effort' or it risks not meeting its 2020 renewable energy target, the European Commission has said, echoing recent comments from MPs and industry.

The UK is one of four countries that ‘has to make the biggest efforts to fill the gap’ to meet their 2020 renewable energy targets, according to a report for the European Commission.

Although an estimated 8.2% of UK energy in 2015 was from renewables, slightly ahead of the 7.5% needed to be on track to meet its 15% target for 2020, it only has five years to reach the goal. It may struggle to do so because the amount of money being invested in energy across Europe is falling. In 2014, just €44bn was invested, down more than half from 2011.

The only other countries facing similar challenges to the UK are the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg, the EU’s second State of the Energy Union report says.

The report updates member states’ progress towards the bloc’s energy and climate targets, and gives details of work towards an EU-wide grid.

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said the report was a ‘wake-up call’ for the UK government, which for the past two years had introduced policy changes that have slowed deployment of renewables in the heat, transport, and power sectors.

The UK could miss the target without policy change as it is seriously falling behind in the heat and transport sectors, she added. The government’s recent reforms to its renewable heat incentive (RHI) subsidy scheme have ‘stilted the growth of the biomass sector’, she said.

Last year, the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee said the UK would miss its 2020 target without urgent change and made many of the same recommendations.

The commission’s report is positive when looking at the continent as a whole. The EU got 16.4% of its energy from renewables in 2015 and is on track to meet the EU-wide target of 20% by 2020. Sweden has the highest penetration at 54.1%, with Luxembourg the poorest performer at 5%. The UK ranked 24th out of the 28 states.

The commission said it was optimistic the bloc would also meet an energy efficiency target to cut use by 20% by 2020 compared with projections made in 2008. This is despite energy consumption actually increasing by 2% during 2014.

The UK needs to increase interconnection with the continent, the report adds. It also highlights falling North Sea oil supplies as an issue since they are increasing the UK’s dependence on imports.

Second report on the state of the Energy Union


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