The National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenarios report, which claims to show that the UK is on track to miss its target of sourcing 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The report comes just days after the British government officially agreed to abide by the requirements of the fifth carbon budget. This latest carbon budget includes optimistic emissions reduction targets for the period 2028-2032, in order to achieve the ultimate aim of 80% reduction by 2050 based on 1990 emissions levels.
In addition to the various targets set by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), we are also currently bound by EU wide targets relating to emissions reduction, to amount of energy that must come from renewable sources, and to energy efficiency generally.
The EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) requires the EU as a whole to provide 20% of all of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Under this directive, each individual country within the EU has its own target; the UK’s is to be 15% renewable by 2020.
National Grid have envisioned various scenarios regarding the UK’s use of and reliance on renewable technology into the future. The only one of these scenarios that will, by their estimate, see the 2050 target met is what they call the ‘Gone Green’ scenario. However, the Future Energy Scenarios (FES) 2016 report now shows that even under this scenario, the UK’s 2020 renewable targets, as set by the RED, will not be met by 2022 at the earliest.
Under a more pessimistic scenario, the 15% renewables target won’t be met until 2029.
The report says: “Gone Green will not be forced to meet the 2020 Renewable Energy Directive target of 15 percent of UK energy consumption coming from renewable sources. This reflects that
although significant progress has been made towards the target, with 2020 only four years away it is very challenging to meet. Further analysis will be undertaken through the FES 2016 cycle and we will identify what needs to happen to reach the 15 percent target.”
The CCC have already said that although in certain areas, the UK is working well towards its targets both in terms of renewable use and emissions reduction, some sectors are dragging behind. They warned that, without fairly significant policy revisions, most targets are unlikely to be met, including the RED 2020 target.
A spokesperson for National Grid told the BBC: “The 2050 targets are still achievable, but we need much more momentum.
“The government has to change the trajectory or we are going to fail. We need to learn our lessons from where things have gone wrong so far.”
The view that, while the long-term targets are still more or less achievable, their achievement requires significant effort from the government, is one held by many at the moment, despite assurances from the Department for Energy and Climate Change that related commitments are still fully in tact and unchanged.
The recent Brexit vote cast something of a shadow of uncertainty over future climate change commitments, as it is unclear the extent to which the UK will remain bound to targets set by and within the EU.
Energy secretary Amber Rudd said, shortly after the results of the referendum came through, that while the UK remains committed to tackling climate change, “the decision last week [for Brexit] risks making it a harder road.”