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UK fails to meet 2010 renewable energy targets

15 Apr 2011

The UK has failed to meet its 2010 target for renewable energy adoption, with the country falling short of reaching a ten per cent production target by a large margin, according to new figures.

The Renewable Energy Foundation has published its analysis on the performance of the UK’s renewable energy sector based on information gathered by both the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and UK regulator Ofgem.

It said the UK failed to reach its ten per cent renewable electricity target for 2010, producing only 6.5 per cent of electricity from renewable sources. This lack of adoption comes despite subsidies to renewable generators amounting to about £5bn between 2002 and 2010. In 2010 alone, subsidies totalled in the region of £1.1bn.

Compounding the problem was that the country’s onshore wind load factor in 2010 fell to 21 per cent, against 27 per cent in 2009. Offshore wind fared slightly better but also witnessed a drop from 30 per cent in 2009 to 29 per cent in 2010.

Dr John Constable, director of policy and research for the Renewable Energy Foundatiom, said targets put in place by the European Union (EU) to boost renewable energy production have long been known to lack credibility and clarity of purpose.

‘The UK results we are publishing today show that in spite of very high costs to consumers, the 2010 target has been missed by a large margin and that consequently the EU2020 target is plainly beyond reach.’

He added, ‘The counterproductive target-led renewable policy agenda to 2020 has now reached the end of the road, and should be replaced with a more feasible and reasoned strategy.’

The low wind in 2010 accounts for some of the target shortfall, the foundation said, but it is clear that the target would have been missed by a large margin even if wind speeds had exceeded the highest annual average in the past ten years.

The variation witnessed in annual onshore wind load factors is significant for project economics, it said, and in particular for internal rate of return and future cost of capital.

The UK-based charity said that it did not look like planning delays had been responsible for the missed target as there are large wind farm capacities – both on and offshore – that have been consented but are as yet un-built.

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