Renewables slide during 2003

The Government's first annual report on its energy White Paper describes energy policy developments in the last twelve months as "a good start - but only a start". However, CO2 emissions rose by 1.4% during 2003, driven partly by an increase in coal's share of the electricity mix (ENDS Report 351, pp 11-12 ).

The Government also now estimates that renewables fell from 3% of UK electricity supply in 2002 to 2.9% in 2003. A Department of Trade and Industry report says the setback was due to a reduction in large-scale hydro generation during 2003, following a dry winter.1 Generation qualifying for the renewables obligation rose steadily during 2003, continuing a trend from 1997, the report reveals. However, if this rate of development continues, these sources would still contribute less than 3.5% of electricity supplies by 2010. Achieving the target level of 10% by that date requires growth to be more than five times faster for the rest of the decade.

There are signs of an acceleration in the number of projects coming forward. In a parliamentary debate on 10 May, Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said that some 4.6GW of new renewables capacity has been either granted consent or was in the planning process. "Together with existing capacity, that amounts to more than 60% of what is needed to achieve our 2010 target," she said.

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