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UK “off track” to meet 2020 European renewables targets

The UK is not on track to meet its 2020 European renewables targets, according to the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).

The annual update of the EREC’s “Keep on Track” project revealed that the United Kingdom is slightly off track regarding its 2011 National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) target.

Based on 2011 data, the UK has not yet achieved its 2011/2012 interim target.

Average annual growth in RES overall has decreased between 2010 and 2011 compared to the prior six year average, with the transport sector even showing a negative growth trend.

According to the report, growth rates in the electricity and heat sectors would be sufficient to reach the 2020 target.

Developers of RES projects in the UK face increasing difficulties obtaining equity and debt financing for projects. According to the update, in terms of its commitment to RE, the Government has been sending very mixed signals impacting on industry confidence. Whilst renewables retain strong public support, a vocal minority objecting on the grounds of cost and environmental impact created challenges for the industry.

FiTs: The scheme, introduced in 2010 for small-scale generation, went through major upheaval in 2011/12 due to great uptake of PV, resulting in legal action and denting market confidence. The scheme has since been reformed by applying a capacity based degression mechanism.

Renewables Obligation (RO): the RO has successfully supported large-scale power generation since 2002. The Government has been reviewing technology banding levels for over a year, creating considerable uncertainty for investors. It will be closed to new projects in 2017 having been gradually replaced by the Electricity Market Reform from 2014, creating further uncertainty.

The EU as a whole is on track to reaching its 20 per centRES target by 2020, with a renewable energy share of 13 per cent in 2011.

21 Member States had already met in 2011 the 2011/2012 interim targets set by the 2009/28/EC RES Directive, with only six still needing to make additional efforts.

The achievement of the 2020 RES targets is still hindered by numerous barriers.

The majority of barriers identified result from RES strategy and legislation shortcomings, characterised for instance by a lack of long-term vision on behalf of decision makers as well as unclear national legislative frameworks.

The second barrier category common to the RES-E, RES-H&C and RES-T sectors is the instability of national support mechanismsas well as, for certain technologies, insufficient levels of incentives.Numerous barriers common to the three sectors are caused by insufficient RES information, knowledge and/or skills from the professional sector and decision makers.

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