UK fails to reach renewable energy targets

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As we all try and pick ourselves back up from recent knockbacks in the UK’s renewable energy sector, it’s rather worrying to find out that we actually missed our renewable energy target for 2010 by 3.5%. As a result, the levels of confidence we have in reaching the much larger, more daunting target set for 2020 are plummeting by the second.

This week the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) published its analysis of the UK’s renewables performance in 2010 based on data provided by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Ofgem. The report found that the country only managed to reach 6.5%, when the target was set at 10%. This means that renewables were responsible for approximately 25TWh of generation compared with the target of 38TWh.

Dr John Constable, Director of Policy and Research for REF said, “The EU’s renewable targets have long been known to lack credibility and clarity of purpose. The UK results we are publishing today show that in spite of very high costs to consumers, the 2010 target has been missed by a large margin, and that consequently the EU 2020 target is plainly beyond reach. The counterproductive target-led renewable policy agenda to 2020 has now reached the end of the road, and should be replaced with a more feasible and reasoned strategy.”

Sadly, this news only confirms the long-standing doubt that we are never going to reach the point where at least 30% of UK electricity is generated from renewable sources in 2020. I can already feel the disappointed looks from the rest of Europe as they proudly display their efforts. But they’re right, we should be embarrassed.

What is really scary is that 2010 was the year that the so-called ‘greenest Government ever’ came into power. The UK was promised so much from the joint force that is the Coalition, and for once we were beginning to feel confident that reaching the 30% by 2020 was possible. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before our hopeful looks turned into downcast stares.

Incentive excitement

The introduction of the feed-in tariff was a huge boost for the UK’s renewable industry, promoting more than 20MW of installations in the first four months alone, over half of which was down to solar photovoltaics. This was not necessarily surprising, as its not as if the UK does not want to do its bit for Mother Earth, it just needed an incentive in order to do so.

So, there we were, with a fantastic reason to run off and install solar panels and other green technologies across the country, when Government came along and started messing around with the policy. We are now in a position where the only thing that was driving our renewable energy mix fast towards our 2020 targets is at risk of being slashed to the point of no return.

Let’s hope our policy makers are taking note of this failure to reach renewable energy targets. With just three weeks to get back to DECC with our thoughts on the fast-track tariff proposals, it’s more important than ever that these shortfalls are highlighted.

Come on Government, wake up and smell the disappointment.

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