Swift policy changes needed
Radical, swift and comprehensive" policy changes will be needed from the Government if Britain is to meet its EU target of producing 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, a parliamentary report has warned
Radical, swift and comprehensive" policy changes will be needed from the Government if Britain is to meet its EU target of producing 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, a parliamentary report has warned.
The House of Lords European Union Committee said significant reform of planning law would be needed to allow ministers to drive through the construction of large renewable energy facilities - like wind farms - in the teeth of local opposition.
And it called on ministers to introduce aggressive demand reduction policies to cut the UK's total energy use by 20 per cent by the 2020 deadline. Reductions on this scale could deliver a fifth of the renewables target, the committee said in a report.
The committee also called for an increase in micro-generation grants and a system of renewable heat grants to provide an economic incentive for individuals and households to explore options for micro-energy generation at home.
Lord Freeman, chairman of the Lords EU Committee on the Internal Market, said: "The 15 per cent target is laudable, but is an enormous challenge for the UK, particularly given our current levels of renewable generation.
"Urgent and drastic action will need to be taken in terms of planning, the supply chain and the electricity grid. Energy efficiency and energy saving must be the starting points for meeting the target and policies to encourage reductions in energy use will need to be introduced as part of a comprehensive package of measures aimed at meeting the target.
"If we fail to meet this goal, the UK will become increasingly reliant on nuclear and fossil fuel power."
The committee also voiced concern that the 2020 deadline for renewables may encourage governments to favour wind power over other emerging technologies which might deliver larger reductions in carbon emissions in the long term.
And it cautioned that the Government should not include the proposed Severn Barrage in its calculations for renewable energy, as it may not start generating electricity until 2022 and cannot be considered a deliverable resource until it has overcome a series of economic, environmental and technological hurdles.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said the Government was already taking action to meet its renewable energy targets by improving grid access, speeding up planning decisions, and strengthening the renewables obligation.
"Just last week Secretary of State Ed Miliband announced new measures to support small scale electricity generation through the introduction of feed-in tariffs and we are also looking at new measures to support renewable heat," a spokesman said.