Forty per cent of Britain’s electricity will have to be generated from wind, wave or plant energy by 2020 as a result of a legally-binding new European Union target.
British officials described the target for renewables to be divided up between all EU 27 member states as “ambitious”, since it will mean a rapid increase from the five per cent of electricity generated from renewables at present.
It is likely to mean a six-fold increase in the amount of onshore wind turbines in Britain and a 50-fold increase in the number of offshore wind turbines, according to industry sources.
This is because the 20 per cent target for renewables applies to energy across the board, including transport and heating where the scope for renewables is less, meaning the electricity sector has to do more.
Officials were explaining the implications of the announcement, expected on Wednesday, as the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, warned that the package would not be “cost free”.
In fact, officials say it is likely to cost electricity generating companies £3-8 billion a year.
In an attempt to reach the target, ministers will announce increased support for offshore wind turbines and a feasibility study into a Severn Barrage – to harness tidal power – are being included in the Energy Bill today.
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
22 January 2008
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