REA tells EU leaders: Set national renewables targets to put EU on track to a secure energy system

As UK renewable energy rises to 5.2%, European leaders urged to set national 2030 targets to reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports

The REA calls on Prime Minister David Cameron and fellow EU leaders to acknowledge the role of national 2030 renewable energy targets for improving energy security.


The 2030 energy and climate change framework will be debated by EU leaders tomorrow at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels [1]. The debate is expected to focus in particular on energy security as ongoing tensions in Iraq and Eastern Europe raise serious concerns over the stability of the EU's oil and gas imports. Setting national 2030 targets for increasing home-grown renewable energy would significantly help to reduce our exposure to volatility in international energy markets.

REA Chief Executive Dr Nina Skorupska said:

"Renewables and energy efficiency are the best no-regrets options for both reducing exposure to international energy market shocks and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They should be at the heart of the EU strategies to address both energy security and climate change. The most cost-effective way to do this that gives investors most certainty is with nationally binding 2030 targets."

The German Renewable Energy Federation recently published a paper outlining the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency for improving energy security [2]. The European Renewable Energies Federation yesterday wrote to all EU Heads of State to further reinforce this point [3]. Some Governments are not waiting for the final EU decision (expected in October) and are already setting their own 2030 targets. For instance, just last week France set a 2030 renewable energy target of at least 32% [4].

Tomorrow's high level debate on the 2030 energy and climate change framework comes just as two reports have been published assessing the UK's progress towards its current target of 15% renewable energy by 2020.

The pan-European Keep on Track! project, which monitors progress and addresses barriers to the achievement of the 2020 renewable energy targets, yesterday published its 2014 EU Tracking Roadmap [5]. This report gives data for the full 2012 year for all EU Member States, and ranks the UK 26th out of the EU 28 with 4% renewable energy in 2012. Renewable electricity has grown well since 2010, but growth in renewable heat and transport fuels needs to accelerate to meet the 2020 target.

Provisional UK data for 2013 and Q1 2014 were published today by DECC [6]. In 2013, the UK's progress towards the 2020 target increased to 5.2% renewable energy, comprising 14.9% renewable electricity (13.9% using the 2020 target methodology), 2.8% renewable heat and 4.4% renewable transport. In Q1 2014, growth in biomass, solar and wind power saw the share of renewable electricity rise to a record 19.4%, but the share of renewable energy in transport actually fell from Q4 2013, down to 3.6% of road fuels. Renewable heat data are only compiled annually.

REA Chief Executive Dr Nina Skorupska said:

"Every percentage point increase in home-grown renewable energy makes us that much more energy secure. The progress in electricity is encouraging, but growth is not yet strong enough in renewable heat and transport to meet the Government's objectives. The Renewable Heat Incentive is beginning to drive substantial investment opportunities in green heating, but Government must set the target for the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation out to 2020 to attract investment in sustainable biofuels.

"An over-reliance on the existing EU Emissions Trading Scheme will not deliver the low carbon energy we need, partly because it is an imperfect driver of low carbon electricity, but mainly because it does not drive decarbonisation in heating and transport. This is why national 2030 renewables targets are important alongside simple greenhouse gas targets. National renewables targets give investors confidence that Governments will put stable, supportive policies in place. This reduces risk and the cost of capital and drives investment, jobs and cost reductions."

STA Chief Executive Paul Barwell said:

"Solar power is leading the renewables race towards competing with fossil fuels without subsidy. We know we can achieve this well before 2030, as long as policies are clear and stable. Financial support should be designed to reduce gradually to zero in line with cost reductions, but instead we keep seeing drastic knee-jerk cuts, first for household solar and now for solar farms.

"Targets will be important even when subsidy is no longer needed, as other areas such as planning and grid access will still require supportive Government policies to fully realise the potential for solar power to deliver secure and cheap green energy to UK homes, businesses and community groups."

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