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UK predicted to miss UK renewable energy targets

The UK will miss the European Union renewable energy target set for 2020 by almost 10%, according to consultancy Cambridge Econometrics.

It predicts in its latest UK  energy and the environment forecast that the UK will only be able to produce 6% of its energy through renewable sources by 2020. However, the legally binding EU target for the UK for 2020 stands at 15%, as part of the 20% target for the EU as a whole. Cambridge Econometrics believes the main contributors to this will be renewable electricity sources, the use of biofuels in transport and renewable fuels in heating.

In turn, the UK will not meet its own renewable electricity targets for 2010 and 2020, which were set at 10% and 30% respectively by the previous Government. It is predicted the UK will achieve 7% electricity from renewables by 2010 and 16.5% by 2020.

The coalition Government announced in its manifesto last week that it would seek to increase the current renewable energy targets after consulting with the Climate Change Committee.

Cambridge Econometrics consultant Professor Paul Ekins said: “The outgoing Government is to be applauded for setting statutory carbon targets and budgets, but the new administration will need to appreciate the difference between setting targets and having firm policies in place that help to achieve them. The challenge now is to ensure that the 2020 targets are met by policies that cause emissions to fall substantially in a context of economic growth.”

Currently, the  penalty for missing EU targets on renewable energy for 2020 have not been agreed.

According to the consultancy, the UK will fail to meet its renewable electricity targets because fossil fuel generation will remain important in meeting the UK’s electricity needs over the next 10 years. Additionally, new gas-fired power stations rather than renewables will help to replace the power that has been lost through the decommissioning of most of the UK’s nuclear and coal-fired power stations.

Predictions by Cambridge Econometric were also positive about the proposed changes to the current renewable obligation policy recently announced by the new coalition Government. The RO system will work alongside feed in tariffs which will “further increase the production of electricity from renewable sources and reduce demand met by the electricity grid.”

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