BERR proposes raising Renewables Obligation 2020 target to 35%

A government strategy for increasing the UK’s supply of renewable energy was issued for consultation by the Business Department (BERR) today

It has been developed in response to the EU’s proposed renewable energy Directive, which includes a target for renewables to account for 15% of UK energy supply by 2020. To meet the target the UK needs to get 32% of its electricity, 14% of its heat and 10% of its transport fuel from renewables, BERR says.

Offshore wind could provide half of the renewable electricity that the UK needs. Biomass and solar thermal technologies will be used to meet the majority of the UK’s heat needs.

The consultation rejects the case for a feed-in tariff to promote large-scale renewables, but says BERR “will extend and raise” the Renewables Obligation (RO).

The RO currently requires electricity suppliers to increase the proportion of their electricity from renewables to 20% by 2020 - way below the level needed to comply with the Directive. Therefore the document suggests extending this to achieve 35% by 2020, although the cap could be removed completely.

The level of support that technologies receive under the RO is also likely to change. From April 2009, emerging technologies like wave and tidal power will receive more support per MWh of electricity they generate than mature technologies like onshore wind. But the document proposes altering these 'bands' again to ensure that the 2020 target is met.

Other important proposals in the document include:

  • A feed-in tariff for microrenewables. The consultation explains how such a tariff could work, but does not suggest how much support it should provide to householders.
  • An incentive scheme to promote renewable heat. More details of this are expected in the autumn.
  • Measures to promote the use of biomass for energy generation, including stopping waste wood and food waste going to landfill 'as far as is practical.'

The consultation is open until 26 September.

BERR also issued today the final report of its Transmission Access Review. This puts forward measures for improving renewables access to the grid.