Wholesale changes to Government policy are essential to enable the UK to reach the EU renewables target for 2020 according to a recent report from the UK Parliament’s House of Lords.
Energy savings and micro-generation of renewable electricity and heat should be central to the UK strategy for meeting EU renewable energy targets, according to the report from the House of Lords EU Committee. Moreover, the Government should explore all options in terms of energy production, distribution and energy efficiency to achieve the EU target of 15% savings by 2020.
"The 15% target is laudable but is an enormous challenge for the UK, particularly given our current levels of renewable generation,” comments Lord Freeman, chairman of the Lords EU Committee on the Internal Market. “Urgent and drastic action will need to be taken in terms of planning, the supply chain and the electricity grid.”
The Committee is particularly concerned that the current UK renewable energy strategy fails to place energy efficiency at its centre. It points out that aggressive demand reduction policies alone could contribute a fifth of the 15% target.
At present renewable energy only contributes 5.1% of gross UK electricity production. Projections for 2010 expect this to grow to 10%. While there is huge potential for tidal and wind power, most renewable energy currently comes from biomass (52%) and hydroelectricity (35%). Renewable heat systems and micro-electricity generation are a vital part of the overall renewables plan – particularly as 41% of UK energy use is for heating and cooling.
The Committee also aired concern about the undermining of emerging environmental technologies. It believes that, by striving to achieve the 2020 targets, the Government may overlook more cost-effective long-term methods. In addition, the committee asks the European Commission to consider whether developing technologies such as wave and tidal power may be disadvantaged by the 2020 targets.
The EU Climate Change Package was launched in March 2007 to cut emissions, increase the contribution of renewable energy and maximise energy efficiency. An integral part is the EU’s 20-20-20 targets. These represent a commitment by Member States to reduce CO2 emissions by 20%, and increase renewable energy and energy efficiency by 20%. To meet the EU renewable energy target by 2020, each Member State has been given a national target based on their existing renewable generation, their GDP and a flat-rate increase for all. This led to the 15% target for the UK.