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Academics predict renewables failure

The Government will fail to reach its goal of producing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, a group of academics has predicted.

According to figures contained in Cambridge Econometrics’ UK Energy and the Environment report, renewables will account for only approximately 5 per cent of UK electricity sales to final users by 2010, just half of the 10 per cent target.

The report argues that, even if electricity demand were to grow at around 1 to 1.5 per cent per annum between 2010 and 2020 and fossil fuel prices were to remain relatively high, the share of renewables in UK electricity sales is only expected to increase to around 10.25 per cent by 2015.

This is still short of the 15 per cent target set by the Government under its renewable obligation scheme.

Cambridge Econometrics’ researchers put the forecast failure down to the expectation that fossil fuel generation will remain an important contributor towards meeting the UK’s electricity needs over the next 12 years.

Professor Paul Ekins of King’s College London, a senior consultant to Cambridge Econometrics and co-editor of the report, said: 'These forecasts provide a timely reality check about the progress that the UK is likely to make over the next twelve years towards achieving its goal of at least a 26 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 and at least a 60 per cent reduction by 2050.

“The headline message from these forecasts is that, despite all the rhetoric about the urgency of tackling climate change, the Government has seemingly still not understood the stringency of policies required to move the UK towards a low-carbon economy.

'The forecasts also indicate that, despite high energy prices, the Government’s policies to promote a low-carbon future are not yet suffi cient to meet the carbon challenge restated most recently in the May 2007 Energy White Paper and the Climate Change Bill.”