Last week it was announced that the European Union has set a new target for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030. This was agreed by all member states including us here in the UK. This will hopefully mean new policies promoting renewable energy in the country.
Action for Renewables a new campaign supported by seven UK renewable energy trade bodies is delighted that the UK fought hard for ambitious targets in a fraught political situation and the proposals agreed show a real commitment to reform the EU’s weakened Emissions Trading Scheme. However they are disappointed the European wide energy from renewable sources target of at least 27% is not as great an incentive than the current Member State level 2020 target.
We have previously discussed how almost all renewable energy technologies could be delivering less expensive energy than any other form of low carbon generation by 2030. Also, several, and in particular onshore wind, could become the cheapest forms of energy in the market and no longer require subsidy as both renewable and fossil fuel energy sources currently do.
However to achieve these cost reductions the industry needs clarity of future policy and targets. It can then seek investment based on this to drive the technology forwards and develop skills.
Action for renewables have specifically urged the UK Government to present a clear definition for the role of renewable energy in the 2030 energy mix and the objectives required to achieve this. In addition they also want the Government to push for a radical reform of the Emission Trading Scheme and provide an effective carbon price that gives renewables an equal footing with fossil fuels.
Tony Juniper, Chair of Action for Renewables, said:
“Now we have the EU 2030 framework in place it’s time to work on delivery. Renewables are the only generation technologies that meet all of the goals we must pursue in parallel. They are genuinely low carbon, improve our energy security and long term bring down costs. Renewables also create jobs and enable ordinary people to invest in energy production.
“The UK is doing good work on pushing forward much-needed reforms to the EU ETS. But we now need to build on this good work and unlock the full potential of renewables for transforming our energy system in the 2020s.”
Action for Renewables recommended a 30% 2030 renewable energy target for the UK and reform of the EU ETS as two of its six ‘key tests’ for the next government:
Support the Climate Change Act to keep us on course to meet our carbon commitments and back global efforts to tackle climate change.
Set a new renewables target for 2030 of 30% of UK energy
Back the Independent Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to set a binding target for low carbon electricity by 2030.
Fund the Renewable Heat Incentive for new applications after 2016.
Boost the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation to reach the 10% renewable energy target for transport by 2020.
Reform the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to ensure the market takes account of all sectors’ polluting cost of carbon emissions.
We wholeheartedly agree with Action for Renewables points. The renewable energy industry in the UK is strong and we have advocated before for a clear plan of action from the Government to support it. This may take the form of targets, subsidies, and investment in technology. All this will promote investment, increase renewable energy production, reduce our carbon emissions, and in the long term secure our energy future with diminishing costs.
For example Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has spoken recently about the need for governments, regulators and the private sector to work together to secure grid connections for Orkney and Shetland.
Speaking at the event on grid connections, Mr Carmichael said: “Last year the coalition government also announced a specific strike price for Scottish Islands which will help to unlock their renewable potential.
“That was a welcome and necessary step and it established an important principle. It provides, however, only a mechanism for supporting generation capacity once it is installed.
“Without grid connections for the islands we shall never see that capacity installed and the potential for the generation of tidal and wave power will not be realised — or at the very least it will not be realised here.”
Orkney and Shetland offer wonderful renewable energy resources but without an advanced grid connection their potential cannot be realised. There are many cases like this throughout the country where untapped renewable energy sources cannot be accessed due to a lack of proper technology. Government, industry, and academia; we all must work together in order to attain as many clean reliable energy sources as possible. Incentive must be offered as that will encourage investment which in turn will help fund innovation.