The government must put more money into renewable energy if it is to stand any chance of meeting its target of getting 20 percent of its energy from those sources by 2020, industry associations said on Friday.
The goal was set out in last year’s review of the country’s future energy needs and how to supply them and is expected to be enshrined in the Energy White Paper expected in March.
But the British Wind Energy Association and the Renewable Energy Association in their submissions on proposed reform of the Renewables Obligation – the instrument used to force electricity companies to switch to clean energy sources – warned that the sector was in danger.
“Trying to get a 20 percent target in 2020 using the same amount of money as a 15 percent goal is like trying to extract a quart from a pint pot,” BWEA chief executive Maria McCaffery said. “It just doesn’t add up.”
As part of the reforms, the government has proposed reducing subsidies for onshore wind farms in order to raise support for the developing offshore wind as well as wave and tidal energy.
But the organisations complained that any reduction in support for onshore would simply stop development and the money saved would be inadequate to boost offshore wind farms which cost roughly twice as much.
“It would cut onshore wind off at the knees,” said BWEA’s offshore chief Gordon Edge. “The message is either spend more or deliver less.”
Currently Britain gets barely four percent of its energy from renewable sources, the vast majority of which is from wind.
A total of 2,000 megawatts of wind power will be on line by the end of this month with another 2,000 MW either under construction or having been given the go-ahead.
Worldwide the figure of installed wind power is over 60,000 megawatts.
The government says it wants more renewable energy sources as part of its push to reduce rising reliance on imports as North Sea oil and gas run out and to cut emissions of climate warming gases from burning fossil fuels for power and transport.
But the industry associations warned that uncertainty over future funding was already scaring away private investors and booming demand for turbines as well as construction materials was pushing prices up steeply.
By Jeremy Lovell
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