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Renewable heat must increase to meet targets

Renewable heat generation has grown by more than 11% annually since 2009, according to new research on the renewable energy sector.

However, growth will need to accelerate to an average of 18% if the Government’s renewable heat target is to be achieved.

The REview – Renewable Energy View: 2014 report from the Renewable Energy Association (REA) in partnership with Innovas and PwC, says the 11.3% year-on-year average increase was between 2009 and 2012 - the last full year for which data are available.

However, the report says that more growth, mainly from biomass and heat pumps, will be needed to meet the Government’s ambition of 12% renewable heat by 2020.

According to analysis by PwC, £29.8bn was invested in UK renewable energy generation between 2010 and 2013, of which only £1.4bn went to renewable heat up to 2012. Some £23bn is expected to be invested in the sector in the run-up to 2020.

Ronan O’Regan, head of renewable energy at PwC, said: “With recent historical investment dominated by renewable electricity, investment in renewable heat has been modest in comparison and this market requires a rapid scale up in investment levels if we are to achieve our overall 2020 renewable energy targets.”

He added that £65bn in total was needed to meet the Government’s renewable heat and electricity targets by 2020, which looked “achievable” but needed clear ongoing policy support to ensure investor confidence.

Renewable electricity generation has grown steadily, increasing on average by 20.3% year-on-year between 2009 and 2013, the report says. It concludes that the Government’s target of 30% renewable electricity in 2020 can be achieved, with major contributions from wind, biomass, energy from waste and solar power.

REA chief executive Nina Skorupska was positive on the progress achieved so far. She said: “The Government’s renewable electricity policies have incentivised nearly £28bn of private investment since 2010, achieving annual growth rates of over 20%. The world’s first Renewable Heat Incentive is also beginning to spur positive growth in green heating. This is a tremendous success story.”

Analysis by Innovas showed that 103,000 people were employed in UK renewable energy in 2012/13, fewer than in 2010/11, mainly due to the job losses in the small scale solar industry.

However, it predicted that growth in anaerobic digestion and large scale solar power, along with growth in renewable heating, will boost job numbers. Innovas expects between 110,000 and 124,000 jobs in the sector in three years’ time.

Turnover in the renewable energy industry was £14bn in 2012/13, up £1.5bn from 2010/11, according to the report.

  • According to survey results published yesterday by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 80% of the public polled said they supported the use of renewable energy to provide the UK’s electricity, fuel and heat. This is a similar figure to the last couple of years.

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