Hugh McNeal will take up his new position in April, taking over from Maria McCaffery, who has been in charge since 2006. McCaffery announced her resignation in September.
McNeal has been a civil servant in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) since April 2010.
He served as chief executive for renewable energy deployment at Decc between 2010 and 2014 and was acting director-general of markets and infrastructure for five months between October 2014 and February 2015, when he was appointed director of change.
McNeal has also served in the UK government's deparment of business, innovation and skills as deputy director of low carbon business from 2008 to 2010.
"It will be a privilege to represent an industry which is playing such a vital role in providing safe, secure power for our country's homes and businesses, as well as tens of thousands of high quality jobs across the UK," McNeal said.
His appointment comes as EWEA puts pressure on Decc to clarify its policy on the proposed contracts for difference (CfD) subsidy auctions.
Undoubtedly, McNeal's government-insider knowledge, contacts and political know-how will be invaluable to the trade body to lobby for renewable energy in the UK.
McNeal led the tense negotiations between Decc and Siemens over the Green Port Hull development in 2014, as uncovered by Windpower Monthly's freedom of information request in 2015.
McNeal repeatedly asked Siemens UK whether intervention from the UK government to lobby the German board would be helpful, which Siemens rejected each time.
Outgoing RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery said: "I am delighted to be handing over the reins of chief executive to such a capable pair of hands. I wish Hugh every success in his new role. He has a wealth of experience on energy policy and I have no doubt that he will be a highly effective champion of wind, wave and tidal energy".