Embargo: 00:01 Friday 24 October 2008
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords European Union Committee have today recommended that the Government will need to explore all options in energy production, distribution and energy efficiency if the UK is to meet its EU target of 15% of its final energy consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020.

The Committee argue that if the UK, which in 2005 only produced 1.3% of its energy from renewable sources, is to meet its EU target, it will need to explore increasing energy efficiency, renewable heat generation and micro-generation as well large scale renewable electricity generation. Meeting the target will require radical, swift and comprehensive changes to various policies. For example, the Committee state that the current planning proposals will not be sufficient to remove the barriers planning laws currently present to renewables. If sufficient renewable generation capacity is to be built before 2020, the Government will need to go further and grant the Secretary of State more powers to drive through large renewable energy generation schemes even where there is local opposition.

The Committee is concerned that the Government has not included energy efficiency as a central part of the Renewable Energy Strategy. They point out that witnesses estimated that around a fifth of the 15% reduction target could be achieved by 'aggressive demand reduction policies'. The Committee state that energy efficiency measures should form the starting point for the Government to meet its 2020 targets. They call on the Government to set a 20% energy reduction target by 2020.

The report also points out that 41% of the UK's energy use is for heating and cooling. The Committee stress that renewable heat technologies and micro-electricity generation should be as important a part of meeting the UK's renewables target as large-scale electricity generation. They call on the Government to increase existing micro-generation grants and to introduce a system of renewable heat grants to ensure individuals have an economic incentive to explore options for micro-energy generation at home.

The Committee express concern that the focus on achieving the ambitious 2020 targets may undermine more cost-effective, but longer term, energy approaches based on emerging technologies. They point out that the target will favour wind power, as this is the most developed renewable energy technology, and mean less priority is given to emerging technologies. The report recommends that the Government increase their support for research into alternative renewable technologies and ensure Government funded research is properly co-ordinated. They also call on the European Commission to consider whether technologies such as wave and tidal power are likely to be disadvantaged by the 2020 targets as part of their regular assessments of Member States' progress on renewables. The report suggests the Government and the EU should consider adopting targets for 2030 as well as 2020 to ensure long term approaches remain on the agenda.

The Committee looked at the proposals to introduce a Guarantee of Origin (GoO) certification scheme for renewable energy. This would allow countries to purchase GoO certificates from Member States who are already meeting their renewables targets. The Committee recognise that the UK will probably have to rely on some GoO trading to meet its targets but stress that 'a significant proportion of the 15% target should be met domestically' to ensure the scheme does not undermine efforts to increase the UK's renewable energy production capacity. They call on the Government to specify soon what should be the maximum proportion of the UK's targets to be met using GoO trading.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • The Government should not rely on the Severn Barrage project to provide enough energy to meet its targets. The scheme may not be fully operational until 2022 and until full economic, environmental and technological assessments had been carried out it should not be considered a deliverable resource. The length of time taken to make a decision on the Severn Barrage cannot be repeated on future schemes if the Government hopes to meet its targets.

Commenting Lord Freeman, Chairman of the Lords EU Committee on the Internal Market, said:

"The 15% target is laudable but is an enormous challenge for the UK, particularly given our current levels of renewable generation. Urgent and drastic action will need to be taken in terms of planning, the supply chain and the electricity grid. Energy efficiency and energy saving must be the starting points for meeting the target and policies to encourage reductions in energy use will need to be introduced as part of a comprehensive package of measures aimed at meeting the target.

"If we fail to meet this goal, the UK will become increasingly reliant on nuclear and fossil fuel power."

Notes to Editors

  1. The report, The EU's Target for Renewable Energy:20% by 2020 is available from The Stationery Office, House of Lords European Union Committee (Sub-Committee on the Internal Market), 27th Report of 2007/08, HL Paper 175
  2. The report will be available online shortly after publication at:
  3. The members of the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, who carried out this inquiry were:

Lord Freeman (Chairman)

Lord Powell of Bayswater

Lord Bradshaw

Lord Rowe-Beddoe

Lord Dykes

Lord Ryder of Wensum

Lord James of Blackheath

Lord Walpole

Lord Mitchell

Lord Whitty

Lord Paul

For copies of the report, or to request an interview with Lord Freeman, Chairman of the Committee, please contact Owen Williams, Head of Press and Media, House of Lords, on 0207 219 8659.