Committee suggests 15-fold increase in renewable energy by 2030

The REA agrees with the main thrust of the CCC’s review, but believes that a broader perspective is required.

Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the REA said;

“Renewable energy is about far more than decarbonisation, and the report barely touches on the other things that renewables offer.  The CCC, in keeping with its remit,  is taking a narrow climate change perspective so there is little mention of energy security, diversification, employment creation, synergies with municipal and commercial waste management or the economic benefits to the UK from manufacturing.  Carbon can easily become the proxy for why we’re doing renewables - and viewed through that lens alone, you just don’t get the full picture. All things being equal – and the costs are not far off that – renewables should come out more favourably than the alternatives.  With renewables, you will never have to worry about fuel sources or sites for waste disposal running out.  Plus in many cases the fuel will deliver its self to the power station, come what may!

We continue to disagree with the Committee on bioenergy.  It sees little role in power generation beyond 2020, yet DECC rightly has it as one of the main workhorses of the 2020 target.”

Key points

  • We welcome the recommendation for firm commitment now, but this should apply to all renewables, not just offshore wind and marine renewablesI.  The Government needs to translate political commitment into policy reality for a range of technologies, including marine.
  • The Committee seems to place a great deal of weight on bidding for contracts under the reformed electricity trading arrangements.  Industry has expressed wide scale wariness of this option.  The one benefit in this context is that many of the technologies which the report does not mentionII are among the cheapest, and it would make no sense to ignore their contribution under a competitive scenario.  Currently these technologies tend to miss out under the Renewables Obligation.
  • Solar PV is done a great disservice in this report.  It suggests that solar PV could be economically viable in the UK by 2030III but it is not comparing like with like.  Howard Johns Chair of the Solar Trade Association which is affiliated to the REA said, “There is no discussion of grid parity.  In Europe the cost of PV is expected to equal retail prices before the end of the decade.  The committee takes a bizarrely blinkered view.”
  • There is almost no mention of geothermal energy.
  • The committee is sanguine about very high levels of penetration of intermittent renewablesIV.  This is most welcome.
  • We welcome comments on integrating the RHI and Green Deal, but the text suggests this might only be with respect to information provision and marketing.  “This misses out on the big win, which is that when done together, the policies bring each other’s costs down.  The RHI brings an income which can cross subsidise the more expensive energy efficiency measures, and those energy efficiency measures reduce the capital costs of the renewables installation.  It’s a perfect virtuous circle,” said Gaynor Hartnell.

The 10% transport target is appropriate and achievable, despite the Committee not having undertaken any further analysis since the Gallagher Review of 2008.  It notes that at current oil prices, sustainable biofuels are 16% cheaper than conventional fuels. 

Clare Wenner, REA’s Head of Transport said;

“Given that the Committee has not undertaken any further analysis since the Gallagher Review of 2008, the REA welcomes the confirmation that the 10% renewable transport target is appropriate and achievable. We also welcome confirmation that at current oil prices, the use of sustainable biofuels would represent a saving of 0.01% of UK’s GDP in 2030, an important contribution in an uncertain economic climate. The UK biofuels industry fully supports the production and use of sustainable biofuels and looks forward to the early implementation of legally mandated sustainability requirements in the UK. The REA also notes that the Committee recommends a high level of penetration of electric vehicles by 2020. To be fully sustainable these vehicles must be powered by renewable electricity.”

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