UK ‘has already approved enough green energy to hit targets’

May 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

If all 18GW of such projects currently in the planning system were consented
and built, the UK would exceed that level by 50 per cent, REF calculates.

Dr John Constable, one of the authors of the REF study, said there was “vastly
more speculative activity in the planning system than is required by the
targets or can be afforded by the consumer”.

The report is likely to strengthen Tory calls to curb the expansion of wind
and solar farms, which are subsidised by energy bill-payers.

Britain has no binding renewable targets beyond 2020 and ministers have said
they are happy to use other low-carbon technologies, such as nuclear or
‘clean’ gas, if they offer a cheaper route to decarbonising.

REF’s analysis comes as Tim Yeo MP, Tory chairman of the energy select
committee, said government plans for expensive offshore wind farms may have
to be cut, in light of new figures showing the rising cost of green

Documents quietly released by the Treasury last week show that ministers
expect to sign deals this year committing consumers to paying £28.8bn in
subsidies for a series of projects over coming decades.

The projects include at least five offshore wind farms, Hinkley Point nuclear
plant, and three biomass plants.

Mr Yeo said the figures showed the need for ministers to be “very hard-headed
about the cost-effectiveness of different technologies”.

“We may need to revise downwards how much offshore wind there will be,” he
said. “A couple of years ago the government was suggesting offshore wind
will have a really big part to play. I don’t think we can afford that.”

He said that solar and onshore wind farms were “better value” and suggested
that blocking onshore wind farms would push up bills.

“We do need to be aware that the cost of respecting people’s concern about the
environmental impact of onshore wind is to add greatly to the costs of
producing low-carbon energy,” Mr Yeo said. “The public need to
understand that there is a cost to saying no to onshore wind.”

The comments appear to echo those of Ed Davey, the energy secretary, who has
claimed that Tory plans to curb onshore wind in favour of costlier offshore
turbines could push up bills.

However, Mr Yeo said a formal curb on onshore wind deployment were unlikely to
many any difference because developers were already finding it “almost
impossible to get planning consent”.

A spokesman for the energy department said: “We are well placed to meet our
2020 targets. We are working with industry to actively manage deployment and
ensure value for money for consumers.

“Now more than ever should we invest in home-grown energy sources like
nuclear, renewables and carbon capture storage to reduce our reliance on
foreign imports and protect bill-payers from shocks caused by volatile world
markets, which will keep the lights on for years to come.

“Our long term aim is for renewable energy projects to compete on price
meaning only the most cost effective projects will receive support, giving
customers the best deal.”

The Renewable Energy Association, which represents the green energy industry,
said last week: “The UK is currently broadly on track to meet its legally
binding 2020 target of 15% renewable energy.”

Overall growth in renewable energy deployment must continue at an average 17%
per annum to achieve the target – one of the most demanding growth rates
across the whole EU.” It said that £30bn had been invested in renewable
energy since 2010 and that twice that amount was needed by 2020.

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