If the UK is to meet its legally-binding target of generating 15% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, more onshore wind may be needed to make up for a possible shortfall in other parts of the energy mix.
This warning from a UK renewables trade association follows comments by the Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben (aka John Gummer, a former Tory Minister), in a London-based newspaper, in which he stated: “I’m happy that we have already got enough onshore wind to 2020 to meet that part of the portfolio.
“It is likely that onshore wind will continue to play a part in our renewables after 2020, but it is not a decision we have to make now, and there are circumstances in which it might not. The public will decide what the balance is.”
Renewable UK points out that not all the onshore wind projects which have been approved will actually get built – about 10% will drop away for financial and other reasons between now and 2020. This means the UK could lose more than 450 megawatts of onshore wind capacity – enough to power nearly a quarter of a million British homes. So the pipeline of approvals will need to be extended to make up for this.
As well as generating renewable electricity from wind and other clean sources, the UK has committed to produce a significantly higher proportion of heat, and fuel for transport, from renewables.
According to the latest available Government figures, the UK is only a third of the way towards its target for transport fuel, and just a fifth of the way towards its target for renewable heat. To make up for a shortfall in these other areas, the Government could increase the amount of clean electricity to hit the overall target, as the UK is already over half way towards generating 30% of its electricity from renewables – more than half of which is being provided by wind.
The CCC’s 4th Carbon Budget, currently being considered by the Government, envisages 25 gigawatts of onshore wind by 2030, 12 gigawatts above what the Government say should be installed by 2020. The CCC has also acknowledged that onshore wind is one of the cheapest technologies to achieve this.
* David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, has left to take on a new role. Chief Economist Adrian Gault has been appointed as interim Chief Executive until a permanent appointment is made to replace Kennedy.
* Meanwhile, the CCC is in the process of recruiting a long term secondee to work on the assessment of the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme, funded by the Scottish Government.