Wind industry welcomes - EU's green energy revolution

Renewables body calls on Govt to act now to deliver 2020 targets on time

BWEA, the body representing the UK's wind, wave & tidal industries today welcomed the EU Commission's announcement that Britain should supply 15 % of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive said "This is a revolution for the UK's energy supply. Over half this target will have to be delivered by renewable electricity, and the vast majority of that will be wind power. It is achievable but now industry and Government have to work together to make it happen."

At 2 % Britain has the third lowest supply of renewable energy in Europe but some of the continent's richest resources. Because of the low starting base for renewables in heat and fuel the bulk of Britain's contribution will have to come from electricity. That will mean that between 30 - 40 % of our electricity will have to come from renewable energy by 2020.

Overall, BWEA estimates that in order to reach the 15 % target, 8 % of he UK's power supply will have to be provided by electricity (including wind, wave, tidal, biomass and hydro), while heating will provide 3 % - 4 % and fuel just 3 %.

Wind industry analysts expect a major expansion in supply over the next decade. Although currently only 2.5 GW of the UK's electricity generating capacity is wind (1.5 % of electrical energy supply), another 6 GW is approved and waiting to be built or is under construction, while a further 9.5 GW is waiting to be approved in planning. Altogether there are 16 GW of wind schemes already in the system.

BWEA forecasts that by 2020, 13 GW of electricity (10 % of supply) should come from onshore wind and 20 GW (17 %) from offshore wind. While other sources such as wave & tidal, hydro and biomass will provide an additional 8 - 10 %.

McCaffery said "Wind energy is the next North Sea Oil. Britain could be a world leader in renewable energy if we have the will to make this vision a reality". She added "In order to reach the new target there will need to be a step change in government policy to harness the UK's potential."

Government has already announced a process to award up to 33 GW of sites for offshore wind farms, combined with the new EU target this will encourage a new wave of investment in the UK's wind sector. However, Government action is needed to kickstart it. Specifically, Government needs to:

* Allow National Grid to adopt a more strategic 'predict & provide' approach to investment to connect the new generation of wind farms transmission network quickly.
* Reform the Renewables Obligation, extending its life beyond 2027, to ensure that the flow of private investment will continue flowing after 2015.
* Unblock the logjam in the onshore planning system which currently holds-up the equivalent of 6% of potential UK electricity supply.

McCaffery said "Whether it is meeting these new targets or filling the emerging energy gap, the UK urgently needs the new clean, affordable domestic energy that the wind, wave and tidal sector can provide".
Nick Medic

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