UK receives renewable energy warning

2nd July 2015

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  • Mitigation ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Built environment


Neda Thomas

The UK is at risk of missing its 2020 renewable energy target, a report from the European commission has revealed.

The report advises the UK, together with France, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands, to review whether their policies and tools are sufficient to achieve their national goals under the renewable energy Directive.

The 2009 legislation commits the EU to source 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020, with member states required to reach their own national renewables targets. These range from 10% in Malta to 49% in Sweden. The UK's share is 15%.

Renewable sources include those for heating as well as electricity, and the commission's report shows that the UK failed to meet its 5.4% interim target for 2013/14, achieving 5.1%. "Since the interim targets will become more ambitious over the coming years, some member states may need to intensify their efforts to keep on track [to 2020]," the commission warned.

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 course to meet its overall 20% ambition, with 19 member states likely to exceed their 2020 targets.

Meanwhile, the latest renewable energy country attractiveness index, which is compiled by professional services firm EY, warns that the outcome of the UK general election has unsettled the renewables industry. Although the UK retains sixth place in the index, EY says the new government's pledge to scrap subsidies for new onshore wind projects and change planning rules to give local communities more say has perplexed the sector and cast a shadow over an estimated 7GW of projects in the pipeline.

With the cost of onshore wind set to fall further, EY says the government's decision to withdraw support contradicts its pledge to reduce emissions at least cost. Energy prices could then rise as more expensive sources, such as offshore wind, are used to fill the capacity gap as onshore wind projects fall away, it warns.

There is also uncertainty in the solar sector. EY says the omission of solar from the Conservative party's election manifesto has left the previously burgeoning sector unsure as to whether it will have a starring role in the UK's future energy mix or be nothing more than a footnote.

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