Government renewables policy under fire, again

The government's renewable energy policy has come under fire for the second time in as many days after a report from an influential committee of MPs described the UK's current renewable energy targets as "wholly inadequate".

The report from the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee follows a similar study released yesterday by the Renewables Advisory Board which warned that a major overhaul of government policy is required if it is even to get close to meeting the 2020 target of ensuring 15 per cent of energy comes from renewable sources.

The Select Committee report advises that it is essential for the government to revise its renewable energy targets to fall into line with the EU's requirements. Currently, UK targets require 20 per cent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, but the EU target applies to energy. This means that more than 35 per cent of electricity will have to come from renewable sources to compensate for the limited amount of renewable heat energy that is likely to be generated.

It also urges the government to work more closely with the renewable energy industry to develop a more "coherent" policy framework, claiming that developers are hampered by "a crowded funding landscape, a protracted – and often costly – planning system, and a poorly conceived regime for accessing the UK electricity transmission system," as well as a burgeoning skills crisis.

Moreover, the committee said it was "disappointed" by the government's attempts to lower the 15 per cent target, primarily by lobbying Brussels to allow investments in clean energy technologies outside the UK to count towards the target.

Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner Robin Webster welcomed the report, adding that it further increased pressure on the government "to deliver a strong green energy strategy instead of trying to wriggle out of EU renewable energy targets".

Energy secretary John Hutton said the government remained committed to meeting the 15 per cent target, adding that it was on schedule to launch a consultation this summer on how to attain the target with a view to publishing full plans next spring.

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