Renewable Energy

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform written statement – made at on 23 January 2008.

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Photo of John Hutton John Hutton Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

I am publishing today the Government's plans for developing a strategy to increase renewable energy use in the UK.

The European Commission today published its proposal for a directive on renewable energy.

The draft directive provides the framework for achieving the EU's agreed target of securing 20 per cent. of all its energy from renewable sources by 2020. In particular, it proposes contributions from the UK and other member states towards this goal. As part of the 20 per cent. renewable energy target, each member state is required to achieve a 10 per cent. share for renewable energy in road transport fuels, so long as sustainability conditions are met. Several other important proposals to meet EU climate and energy objectives have also been published today: there are also proposals for the future of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS); member state targets for greenhouse gas emissions; and a Commission Communication and draft directive on Carbon Capture and Storage.

The Government welcome the Commission's proposals as a good starting point for discussion in the Council. The Commission has proposed that 15 per cent. of all the UK's energy—covering the electricity, heat, and transport sectors—should come from renewables by 2020. This would be a very challenging target, as our existing share is less than 2 per cent. and lower than that of most other member states.

The UK is completely committed to meeting our share which will be decided, along with other member states' shares, in negotiations over the coming months. Renewables will play an increasingly important part in meeting our energy and climate change objectives, alongside other low carbon technologies and our policies to increase energy efficiency. A successful EU Emissions Trading Scheme will be vital in meeting these objectives.

It is essential that there is an overall sustainable approach to meeting biofuels and other renewable energy targets—domestically and in the EU. These targets must not be allowed to trigger the unsustainable cultivation of biomass and biofuels. We shall we pressing for robust consideration of the sustainability impacts of how member states meet their targets.

We are already putting in place measures to increase renewable energy supplies, notably:

The strengthening of the renewables obligation on electricity suppliers under the Energy Bill now before Parliament; as a result, we expect to see the electricity generated by RO eligible renewable sources triple between now and 2015.

The introduction, from April, of the renewable transport fuel obligation, which will require suppliers to include 5 per cent. of renewables in their fuel mix by 2010-11. We intend to increase the level after 2010-11 but only if sustainability and other criteria are met.

However, further measures will be necessary. I published yesterday the terms of reference for the Severn tidal power feasibility study, which I announced in September last year. We will shortly publish a call for evidence on heat. I plan a public consultation in the summer on the options for meeting our share of the EU 2020 renewable energy target. And we will publish our renewable energy strategy in the spring of next year, once the EU directive is passed and the UK's contribution is decided.

Cost-effectiveness will be a key consideration in assessing further measures, in the interests of consumers and the wider economy. Close inter-departmental co-operation will be necessary in working up the options. And where the options touch on devolved matters, we will work together with the devolved Administrations.

A paper on the UK renewable energy strategy and the EU renewable energy directive has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and published on the BERR website. This includes further details of our plans for developing a more ambitious renewable energy strategy.