United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Championing renewables policy -- Government review

The UK's 2010 target of 10% of electricity from renewables could still be met if barriers to wind's deployment are removed. But wind power on its own is not enough to meet the UK's 2050 aspiration of a 60% cut in carbon emissions. These are the key conclusions of the government's Renewables Innovation Review, conducted jointly by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Carbon Trust.

Wind energy -- both on and offshore -- can deliver almost all the growth in renewable energy needed to meet the 10% target and is likely to continue to be the dominant renewable, the report states. At the moment, the UK is not on target. Nonetheless, the report states that renewables will reach 10% by 2010 -- 8% within the Renewables Obligation (RO) and 2% from other renewables. To meet the target, action to remove any potential barriers is needed now. This includes regulatory changes to stimulate grid upgrades and dealing with permitting barriers, the concerns of the aviation industry and public opposition to wind turbines.

incentives needed

For the longer term, the UK needs to develop a range of technologies -- such as fuel cells and wave/tidal projects which, apart from wind, have the greatest potential benefit for the UK. But renewables is just one approach; greater energy efficiency and reducing transport emissions will also be needed. The report concludes that clear, coherent long term incentives are important. UK government funding for renewables is over complex; yet there is still a funding gap, with difficulty moving renewables from the demonstration stage to the supported commercial stage.

"This report demonstrates the impact wind energy is set to have and confirms our view that the 2010 renewable energy target is achievable," says energy minister Stephen Timms. But the UK cannot afford to rest on its laurels, he warns, adding: "We must think strategically both about long term policy and funding if we are going to exploit the full economic and environmental potential of our renewables industry."

The results of the review were welcomed by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). It recognises the government's need to do more to remove institutional barriers to deployment of onshore wind, says the BWEA's Marcus Rand. "It has also recognised that action will be required to help underpin the economics of the larger round two offshore wind projects. The scheduled review of the Renewables Obligation offers a key opportunity for action."

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