UK failing renewables target

16th June 2015

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  • Mitigation ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Energy



The UK is one of three countries that are failing to meet European renewable energy targets, according to a progress report from the European commission.

Under the renewable energy Directive, the UK must generate at least 15% of energy for electricity, heat and transport from renewable sources by 2020. The UK’s share of renewable energy in 2013 only reached 5.1%, below its interim target for 2013/14 of 5.4%, the progress report states.

However, the UK’s performance against the interim target will only be confirmed at the end of July, when actual data for the renewable heat sector is published, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

Frank Aaskov, policy analyst at the REA, said that the renewable electricity and heat sectors were performing well, but added that it was unclear if the UK could stay the course as the new government has not yet been clear about its energy policies, other than to remove subsidies for onshore wind.

A separate report by Keep on Track!, an initiative of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources, which involves members of the European parliament and renewable energy trade bodies from across Europe, has been published.

It says that, if the UK is to meet its 2020 renewable energy target, the government needs to clarify renewable heat subsidies, which have only agreed till March 2016, and support brining advanced biofuels to the market.

Across the EU as a whole, the commission predicts that renewable energy reached a share of 15.3% in 2014, and said Europe was on track to meet its overall target of a 20% share by 2020. The share of renewables used for heating and cooling across Europe in 2014 was estimated to be 16.6%, with around 10% of electricity generated from renewables.

The 2020 target for the transport sector is to achieve 10% from renewables, but the commission says that progress in this area has been slow, with only 5.7% of transport fuel projected to have come from renewable sources in 2014.

It blames insufficient progress in deployment of second generation biofuels, though a political agreement on this was reached in April.

Twenty-five member states are expected to meet their 2013/14 interim targets, the report states. Nineteen member states including Austria, Denmark, Germany, Romania and Sweden may exceed their 2020 targets, it says.

However, the UK, France, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands, and to a lesser extent Belgium and Spain, need to reassess policies and tools that support renewable energy, the commission states.

Some member states may need to intensify their efforts in order to keep on track as the trajectory towards the targets becomes steeper over the coming years, the commission says.

Where necessary, the commission says they can make use of the cooperation mechanism, which allows member states to achieve part of their target in other EU countries, either through joint projects or by allowing part of its renewable energy total to count towards another member’s total.

“There is now clear interest from several member states to use the cooperation mechanisms for achieving 2020 targets, and negotiations are ongoing,” the report states.

The commission is reviewing the effectiveness of the renewable energy Directive as part of a general view of regulations. It says preliminary findings from the review are that the Directive has been successful.

However, the success of measures in the Directive varies, in particular their implementation by member states. Establishing a stable post-2020 policy framework would increase the Directive’s success, says the commission.


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