The starkest warning yet that the UK is on course to miss it’s 2020 renewable energy targets was issued in early September by the Energy and Climate Change Committee.
Although the targets were set under the EU’s renewable energy plan, the UK remains bound by them, despite Brexit. These include a commitment to meeting 15% of the country’s energy needs by renewable means by this dateline, in addition to a target to generate 30% of its electricity in this way. The targets for heating and transport are 12% and 10%, respectively.
The only one of these targets the UK seems on course to hit is the one for renewable electricity.
Juliet Davenport OBE, Chief Executive of renewable energy firm Good Energy, one of the experts who gave evidence to the committee, said:
“This should ring alarm bells for the government – we’re teetering on a cliff edge of losing our global reputation for leadership on climate change. These are EU targets that will be missed, so now the government needs to show the world that Brexit doesn’t mean they’re throwing the towel in on tackling climate change.”
Time to step on the gas?
Both heating and transport have fared worst in the effort to decarbonise. Where heating is concerned, a key culprit appears to be the poor insulation of UK homes, some of the worst in Europe, and the Government’s decision to scrap the Zero Carbon Home’s policy is fingered as evidence of its intransigence.
Government has also been hamstrung by its own failure to educate the public on the alternatives to fossil fuels and the incentives available, according to comment from Good Energy.
An inconsistent policy approach is blamed for the lack of progress made with decarbonising heat and transport.
Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, suggested the report is a call to “step on the gas” by recognising the readiness of biomethane to meet these energy goals.
“Biomethane can deliver at scale now, directly replacing natural gas without the need for disruptive changes to heating systems in homes and businesses. There is a huge opportunity to develop a world-leading green gas sector which can export its technology and expertise to global markets.
“The biomethane industry is ready to deliver, but needs policy certainty on the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation for developers and investors to move forward with new projects.”
Biofuels have been subject to controversy because of their potential to contribute to deforestation if not managed carefully.