Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee

16 June 2008

No. 57A (07-08)



The UK looks set to miss its own renewable energy targets, the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee concludes today.

In its report, Renewable electricity-generation technologies, the Committee finds that the current framework for the development of renewable technologies is inadequate:

€ the research funding landscape is too complex;

€ the wait for planning consent is too lengthy;

€ access to the electricity grid is too limited; and

€ there is a shortage of people with the necessary skills to deliver renewable electricity-generation projects efficiently.

The Committee urges the Government to show a greater sense of dynamism and a clear strategy for progress. If the UK is to meet its proposed EC Mandated target for renewable energy, it is likely to be required to produce upwards of 35 per cent of its electricity from renewable technologies by 2020. In 2006 the percentage produced by these means was just 4.6 per cent.

Given the relative maturity of the wind sector, it is likely to make the greatest contribution to meeting 2020 renewable energy targets. However, the Government must also remain focused on developing emerging technologies such as second generation biofuels.

The Committee recognises that it will be essential to support and deploy a portfolio of technologies both at the macro and micro generation levels to meet the UK's renewable energy targets, including solar, wave and tidal energy.

Lack of access to the electricity grid is one of the major barriers to the deployment of renewable technologies. There is already a waiting list for projects to be connected to the national grid. For example, in Scotland there are now 9.3 GW of wind energy applications awaiting connection.

The Committee concludes that until new transmission capacity is constructed, renewable electricity generators should be allowed to share grid capacity with existing fossil fuel energy providers and the Government should make sure this happens.

Other recommendations include:

€ Consideration be given to the introduction of a feed-in tariff, similar to that already in use in Germany, as a means to support the deployment of renewable technologies.

€ Rewarding household installers for the amount of electricity they produce using microgeneration technologies. Currently, the Government provides grants towards the installation of micro generation devices.

€ The funding landscape for energy related research and development is too complex and needs to be refined.

€ Smart meters which are compatible with electricity micro generation devices should be developed and rolled out to domestic consumers.

Phil Willis, Chairman of the IUSS select committee, said: "Throughout this inquiry we have been consistently disappointed by the lack of urgency expressed by the Government - and at times by the electricity industry - in relation to the challenge ahead.

"We find it highly unlikely that given the current progress the UK will meet the Government's ambition for 10 per cent of electricity to be generated from renewables by 2010, let alone sufficient electricity to meet the EC mandated renewable energy target for 2020."

"It is immensely frustrating that on the one hand the Government is encouraging the deployment of renewable technologies, but that, on the other, these technologies are unable to commence electricity generation due to a poorly conceived transmission access regime."


Committee Membership is as follows:

Mr Phil Willis (Liberal Democrat, Harrogate and Knaresborough)(Chairman)
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods (Labour, City of Durham)
Mr Tim Boswell (Conservative, Daventry)
Mr Ian Cawsey (Labour, Brigg & Goole)
Mrs Nadine Dorries (Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire)
Dr Ian Gibson (Labour, Norwich North)
Dr Evan Harris (Liberal Democrat, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Dr Brian Iddon (Labour, Bolton South East)
Mr Gordon Marsden (Labour, Blackpool South)
Dr Bob Spink (UK Independence Party, Castle Point)
Ian Stewart (Labour, Eccles)
Mr Graham Stringer (Labour, Manchester, Blackley)
Dr Desmond Turner (Labour, Brighton Kemptown)
Mr Rob Wilson (Conservative, Reading East)

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