The UK is going to miss its target to supply 10% of electricity from renewable sources by the end of the year, putting in grave doubt a legally-binding EU target to supply 15% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, a highly-critical report from the Public Accounts Committee has revealed.
The report said blame for missing the targets lay squarely at the door of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which it said had failed to do enough to address the slow progress in the renewable energy sector.
DECC is responsible for ensuring a series of targets are met over the next 40 years but direct government funding for developing renewable energy technologies is delivered through a complex web of organisations that it does not control, said the report. In consequence DECC does not even have a clear understanding of how much has been spent or what has been achieved.
Indeed, between 2000 and 2009, DECC and its predecessors failed to use nearly half of the resources available to it to encourage innovation in renewable energy. “This is a wasted opportunity for providing investment that could have helped increase the supply of renewable energy,” said the report.
Subsequently, the report claimed that DECC had admitted that is was going to miss its target of 10% of electricity to be supplied from renewable sources by the end of 2010, and was not expecting to meet the 10% target until 2012, from a starting position of 2.7% in 2000. The report said that, as a result, an extremely ambitious and legally-binding EU target to supply 15% of all the UK’s energy from renewable sources by 2020 looked highly unlikely.
DECC is counting on a massive growth in wind power during the next decade to meet the 2020 target. While the technology may now largely be in place to meet the 2020 target, there is considerable lost ground to make up and difficult obstacles to overcome. For example, the 6,000 X 2.5 megawatt or 10,000 X 1.5 megawatt onshore wind turbines DECC estimates will be needed to meet the 2020 target will have to overcome financing constraints and obtain planning approval, which typically results in around 40% of proposed projects being abandoned.
Achieving a longer-term 2050 target for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would need further innovation in renewable energy technologies to increase supplies after 2020. The report observed that DECC had developed pathways to achieving the 2050 target, but had not set out the innovation milestones needed if it was to achieve its longer-term goals.