The UK will miss its renewables targets for 2010 and 2015 by a wide margin, but could soon be on track to nearly meet its 2020 goal of 20% of electricity from renewables, according to Cambridge Econometrics (CE), an independent think-tank. It forecasts that renewables will supply only 5% of electricity in 2010 -- well below the 10% target -- and 12.5% in 2015, rather than the 15% government had hoped for. After that, planned changes to the Renewables Obligation (RO) mean the share of renewable energy in the supply mix is set to rise to 19% in 2020 -- just short of the 20% target, says CE. The RO changes will introduce separate subsidy levels for less commercial technologies, such as offshore wind. CE, in its bi-annual report, UK Energy and the Environment, also predicts the country will miss the government's domestic goal of a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2010 from 1990 levels, with a reduction of just 12.8%. Nonetheless, the UK is well on track to meet its Kyoto commitment of an average 12.5% reduction in a basket of six greenhouse gases for the period 2008 to 2012. "These forecasts provide a reality check to the rhetoric on climate change that is now standard government fare," comments CE's Paul Ekins. He points out that after years of denial, the government now accepts it will miss its 20% carbon reduction goal by 2010. "We are now forecasting that the goals for 2020 will also not be achieved without stronger policies than have yet been put in place." Splitting the RO into technology "bands" to give incentives to offshore wind and other struggling renewable energy technologies, is urgently needed, he says. "However, as the proposed changes require primary legislation, it is unfortunate for the government's 10% target that they can only be introduced in April 2009, at the earliest."
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol