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Committee advises Government to focus on meeting current 2020 renewable energy target, rather than raising it – 10 September 2010

The Committee on Climate Change has advised Government to press on with its efforts to ensure that the share of renewable energy is increased from current low levels to 15% by 2020.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, Chris Huhne, the Committee said that the 15% target for 2020 should neither be reduced nor increased: the current ambition is desirable in that it would make an appropriate contribution towards meeting carbon budgets.

At the moment, only 3% of the energy that we use in the UK comes from renewable sources. A step change in the rate of progress is therefore required. The focus for Government should be on reducing delivery risks as a matter of urgency.

In order to drive the step change, and to address delivery risks, the Committee advises Government to:

  • Finalise regulatory arrangements for offshore wind transmission and
  • Agree investment to upgrade the onshore wind transmission network
  • Ensure that any changes to the planning framework do not undermine the number of new renewable projects proceeding, and address unnecessary delays to getting approval
  • Address current uncertainties around financial support for renewable electricity, i.e. the banding of the Renewables Obligation, and ensure the new electricity market arrangements provide adequate support for renewable projects
  • Consider whether there is a role for public sector financial intermediation e.g. through a Green Investment Bank, to provide support for investment in offshore wind generation
  • Resolve uncertainties over the future proposed Renewable Heat Incentive as soon as possible, ensuring support is set at an appropriate level to pull through investment from currently very low levels

Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, David Kennedy said:

“Ensuring that more of the energy we use is from renewable sources is vital for meeting carbon budgets. The current target is desirable, but there are significant risks around achieving it. We do not see any merit in raising this target further. Instead, Government should focus its efforts on meeting the current target, in particular by providing the right incentives to encourage investment in renewable energy projects in the UK”. 

The letter also provides advice on the draft energy national policy statements for energy, which are due to be published shortly. These should highlight the need for early power sector decarbonisation, and in particular that investment in unabated gas should be very limited beyond 2020, with almost all investment flowing to renewable and other low-carbon forms of generation.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne had requested that the Committee advise him on the level of the Government’s renewable energy ambition prior to publishing a broader review into renewable energy, which is due out in spring 2011.

Notes to Editors:
Committee on Climate Change (CCC)

The role of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is to provide independent advice to
Government on setting and meeting carbon budgets and on adapting to climate change:

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