Amber Rudd has admitted Britain does not have the right policies in place to meet its EU target of sourcing 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and challenged transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to help make up the shortfall, the Guardian has reported.
The energy secretary told MPs on Tuesday (10 November) that meeting the target would be challenging, and admitted that the country could end up having to buy renewable energy from its European neighbours if it fell short.
Ms Rudd said that the prospect of getting just 11.5% of energy from renewables by 2020 without further action, first revealed in a leaked letter on 9 November, was accurate.
The gap would have to be addressed by the Department for Transport and by her department doing more on heat, she said.
“It’s my aim we should meet the 2020 target. I recognise we don’t have the right policies, particularly in transport and heat, but we have four to five years and I remain committed to making the target,” she told the energy and climate change committee.
“I am concerned about the work that is being done on transport and on heat to meet the additional targets – that is why I have been writing to ministers in other departments, particularly in transport.”
Making up the shortfall by increasing the amount of renewable electricity from sources such as wind farms, which the Tory party has hit with subsidy cuts, was not an option, she said.
“I think it would be a mistake to abandon heat and transport, they need to make their contribution on the renewable targets,” she added.
Buying renewable energy from other European countries was on the table as an option, she said, but would not be desirable.
“The desirable option is to deliver it ourselves,” she said, while declining to name which countries the UK would consider buying green energy from.
She also rejected claims that the government’s subsidy cuts to renewable electricity over the summer had harmed the country’s ability to meet the target.
On heat, the energy secretary said she was lobbying the Treasury to continue subsidies for renewable heating ahead of the autumn statement.
The domestic RHI, which householders can use to get subsidies for technologies such as biomass boilers and ground-source heat pumps, launched in 2014 and is due to expire in 2017.
Polling by the government, published on 10 November, found that just one person in 10 had heard of the RHI.
Rudd also defended the government’s deal with EDF to build new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Green party MP Caroline Lucas said that the government’s credibility on climate change was “in tatters”.
“To create jobs and tackle climate change, the UK should be leading the way on clean home-grown energy. Ministers must get a grip and urgently act to ensure we meet all of our renewable energy targets,” she said.