UK to outline plans for a 'green revolution'

Posted: 22 June 2008

The UK Government will set out proposed renewable energy plans this week for meeting Britain's EU-set target of ensuring that 15 per cent of UK energy comes from renewable energy sources by 2020. And according to a leaked report, these could result in one in four homes being fitted with solar heating equipment and 3,500 new wind turbines erected across Britain witnin 12 years.

Citing a ccpy of the strategy, seen by The Guardian newspaper. the paper's environment editor,John Vidal, says it will propose a £100bn dash to build up the country's clean power supply to cut emissions by nearly 20 per cent and reduce dependence on oil by 7 per cent by 2012.

He says the proposals include:

  • New powers to force people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes when they renovate them;

  • A 30-fold increase in offshore wind power generation;

  • New loans, grants and incentives for businesses and households;

  • An area the size of the county of Essex to be planted with trees and other crops to produce biomass energy;

  • Forcing people to replace inefficient appliances such as oil-fired boilers.
Commenting on the report, Friends of the Earth said it hopes that Government plans to meet the target will signal the end of Britain's attempts 'to wriggle out of its EU target by proposing loopholes so that the UK, and other countries, would not have to take action at home.' The Government has suggested for example that green energy investments in countries outside the UK or carbon-capturing technology should count towards the target.

EU target

The organisation's energy campaigner, Robin Webster said: "A green energy revolution is desperately needed to tackle climate change, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and help ensure a clean and secure future for us all.

"Harnessing the UK's natural abundance of wind and wave power, and developing a comprehensive energy efficiency programme will create thriving new industries and generate thousands of jobs."

Scroby Sands Offshore Wind Farm
Scroby Sands Offshore Wind Farm
Scroby Sands Offshore Wind Farm, off the coast of Norfolk, was the first major offshore wind farm to receive Government approval and was commissioned in December 2004. It is made up of a total of 30 two-megawatt wind turbines. Photo © Renewable Energy UK
FOE believes Britain can hit the EU's target to generate 15 per cent of UK energy from renewable sources but the Government needs to urgently up its game by launching a massive drive for energy efficiency and supporting the development of a thriving British renewable energy industry.

The EU has assessed what role each country can play in meeting the target of providing 20 per cent of all the European Union's energy use, including power generaton and transport, must come from renewable sources by 2020.

Action needed

The UK currently sources only 2 per cent of its energy from renewable sources - but it has the best wind, wave and tidal resource in Europe. It has therefore provisionally been set a target of ensuring that 15 per cent of its energy comes from renewable sources. To achieve this it has been estimated that around 35-40 per cent of UK electricity needs to come from green sources.

The UK has a domestic target to produce 10 per cent of the nation's electricity by 2010 from renewable sources. But environmetnal campaigners say the Government's existing strategy will miss even this relatively modest target.

They point out, for example, that the government it is currently opposing calls to boost renewable energy generation from homes, businesses and communities by amending the Energy Bill so that energy firms are required to offer a premium payment (feed-in tariff) for all the green energy supplied to the grid from small green energy systems such as solar panels.

Research by the Energy Saving Trust concludes that up to 40 per cent of the UK's electricity could be generated by small-scale renewable energy systems.

Leoni Greene, spokeswoman for the Renewable Energy Association, said: "We applaud the breadth of the imagination and good ideas shown [in the leaked report] but we urgently need action and not more consultation. Government must take hard measures now."

John Vidal's report can be seen here

The FOE website is at www.foe.co.uk