The figure is far higher than the 5% the government said would be achieved with current policies in last year’s energy White Paper.
The target was revealed in the European Commission’s proposed renewable energy Directive on Wednesday. The Directive includes targets for each member state, with the intention of allowing the EU overall to reach a 20% renewables target.
Controversially, it allows countries to trade renewable energy generation certificates – known as “guarantees of origin” – to meet the targets. No limit is set on the number of certificates a country can buy.
If the UK cannot negotiate a reduction in its target before the Directive is finalised, it might be compelled buy certificates.
In response to the announcement, the Business Department (BERR) reiterated its commitment to introduce a new renewable energy strategy in 2009. This response was criticised by the Renewable Energy Association, among others. Philip Wolfe, the REA’s executive director, said: “The Commission has been gentle [in] giving us a below average target, but we won’t get even close to that [with current policies]. The government’s response lacks substance and urgency.”
The draft Directive also includes a target for biofuels to make up 10% of each country’s transport fuels by 2020. For a biofuel to count it must have a minimum 35% greenhouse gas saving compared to the fuel it replaces. This is well below the minimum 50% saving called for by environmental groups.
The crops used to make the biofuels cannot be grown on land that has a high carbon or biodiversity value, it adds. This includes “continually forested areas”.
On Monday, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee called for a moratorium on biofuels targets in the EU until robust sustainability standards were in place.