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Is the UK Government giving up on renewable energy?

The UK Government are failing to meet the renewable energy targets set by the EU for 2020. The UK agreed to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources to 15% by 2020.

“Renewable investment is falling by 95%.”

Angus MacNeil MP, the Energy and Climate Change Committee Chair, said: “The experts we spoke to were clear: the UK will miss its 2020 renewable energy targets without major policy improvements. Failing to meet these would damage the UK’s reputation for climate change leadership. The Government must take urgent action on heat and transport to renew its efforts on decarbonisation.”

Since its launch in the early 90s, UK renewable power production has grown from strength to strength. By 2008 the UK had gained the title of the country with the most offshore wind capacity. Considering the UK has one of the most geographically advantageous positions for producing renewable power in the world, how have we failed in this task?

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Why is this happening?

The surprising U-turn occurred due to lack of funding and a decrease in the number of future renewable projects. The latest Green Alliance briefing outlined renewable energy spending had fallen by £1.1billion in the latter half of 2016. This is set to plummet further due to renewable investment falling by 95% for projects between 2017 and 2020.

Additionally, with the UK now in the early stages of leaving the EU, the targets will most likely stay in place. Angus MacNeil MP says: “We agreed our 2020 renewable energy targets as part of the EU but they still have many merits, even as the UK Government prepares for Brexit. If the UK reneges on these targets, it will undermine confidence in the Government’s commitment to clean energy and the climate targets agreed in Paris. Progress has been slow, but this must be taken as a call to action, not an excuse for backtrack.”

Can we still meet the renewable energy targets?

Government targets can be met by altering policies and gaining sufficient investors for future projects.

It’s also vital that all scheduled developments are completed, including the £2.6bn expansion project of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm. The development, just off Scotland’s Caithness coast, will consist of 84 wind turbines and is due for completion by 2019. The project will create new jobs and bring in around £680 million to the UK and the Scottish economy.

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