The UK is set to miss its renewable energy targets by a wide margin – a failure that could result in billions of pounds being added to energy bills as we rely increasingly on imported gas, according to a new study.
Meeting the UK's renewable energy targets would create a world-leading industry capable of supporting 400,000 jobs and saving the country £60bn in oil and gas imports, according to a new analysis released today.
The report by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) predicts that meeting the UK's mandatory target of producing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 would result in annual revenues across the sector rising from £12.5bn currently to £50bn by the end of the decade.
Similarly, employment across the sector would rise from around 110,000 people currently to 400,000 jobs by 2020.
Only 3% of the UK's energy currently comes from renewable sources, such as sun and wind, compared with a European average of 12%, despite a series of high-profile government policies aimed at increasing that percentage.
Britain is committed to producing 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 – but campaigners say that the government currently has no prospect of achieving that target.
The evidence that the UK is falling behind will embarrass David Cameron as he hosts a two-day international meeting on renewables, the Clean Energy Ministerial, beginning in London on Wednesday. Energy ministers from the world's 20 biggest economies will be at the event, where they will discuss strategies for co-operating on developing low-carbon emission technology and policy.
Renewables as an industry – including wind, solar power and biomass used for heating and electricity – generate a turnover of about £12.5bn a year, with exports worth about £1.6bn last year.