Government likely to miss 2020 renewable energy targets

9th September 2016

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The UK will fail to achieve its 2020 target to provide 15% of its energy needs from renewable sources unless it changes course, MPs have warned.

The overall goal includes sub targets for electricity, heating and transport, and the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) found that the government is three-quarters of the way towards the one for electricity (30%), and is expected to exceed it by 2020. However, it is not yet halfway towards its renewable heat target (12%), and renewables used in transport actually fell last year. The target for transport is 10%, but the MPs said it that between 2014 and 2015 the proportion of renewable energy used in the sector fell from 4.93% to 4.23%.

Committee chair Angus MacNeil said: ‘The experts we spoke to were clear: the UK will miss its 2020 renewable energy targets without major policy improvements. Failing to meet these would damage the UK’s reputation for climate change leadership. The government must take urgent action on heat and transport to renew its efforts on decarbonisation.'

In its latest report on renewable heat and transport, the ECCC said that the government’s proposed reform to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which prioritise heat pumps over biomass, is not the optimal pathway to the 2020 target for heating. Many heat pumps have proven unsatisfactory, whereas biomethane is crucial to meeting the 2020 goal and must remain a funding priority, the report says.

On transport, the MPs noted that the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation RTFO had been capped at 4.75% since 2013. According to the committee, this is well below the level needed to meet the 2020 target and it urged the government to raise it to 9% or risk failing to meet its 2020 renewable transport targets. Its report also calls for a roll out of E10 (a fuel composed of 90% petrol and 10% bioethanol) as soon as possible, to support the target.

The MPs also said the government should also consider re-introducing a tiered system of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), to restore incentives for electric cars, if its plans for full electrification are to succeed by 2040.

They are concerned that leaving the EU may put the renewable energy targets at risk, and they called on the government to recommit to the 2020 targets or set replacement targets to support long-term decarbonisation objectives in line with the Climate Change Act.

‘If the UK reneges on these targets, it will undermine confidence in the government’s commitment to clean energy and the climate targets agreed in Paris. Progress has been slow, but this must be taken as a call to action, not an excuse for backtrack,’ MacNeil said.


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