Disarray in government energy policy thinking emerged this week as a leading think-tank warned that UK renewable electricity targets outstrip the “practical upper limit” for wind power on grounds of cost and carbon reduction.
Responding to the claims in a report by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said it would be guided by National Grid on renewables’ carbon reduction limits. “[Wind construction] will not exceed National Grid’s assessment of the renewable generation that can be sustained on the grid,” said a Decc spokesman.
However, a National Grid spokesman said: “We don’t take carbon emissions into account – it would be our job just to manage the capacity on the system”.
The ASI report said that when wind topped 10 per cent of installed capacity, it ceased to be a practical proposition for carbon reduction because of the need for back-up fossil fuel plant. ASI director Eamonn Butler said the government’s aim for 15 per cent renewables penetration by 2020 was “at the limit of feasibility, and well beyond the limit of good economics”.
The report said: “This analysis points to 20 per cent as the extreme upper limit for wind penetration. However, it’s more likely that 10 per cent is the upper limit because of the increased storage costs, decreased grid reliability and increasing operating costs.”
Energy secretary Ed Davey reaffirmed recently the government view that 30 per cent of electricity should be generated from renewable sources by 2020.
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