Sector slams EU target decision as ‘missed opportunity’

Industry leaders are united in their disappointment at the EU Commission’s announcement not to impose binding renewable energy targets on a national level.

Although a 27 percent EU wide target has been set for 2030, in addition to a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, no single nation will have a legislated target once current quotas are reached in 2020.

The message from the UK renewable energy industry is that the UK government, which was a leading opponent of any renewable target, has failed to realise the effect a growing green energy sector will have on job creation, economic growth and energy security.

The REA and STA led the wave of criticism of the government and the negative message it may send to investors on its commitment to the UK renewables industry. 

REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: We’re about to find out what happens when theoretical economics meets the real world. Theory suggests a ‘technology neutral’ approach is economically efficient. But experience shows that binding renewables targets do two things: First, they give a major long-term boost to investor confidence, helping accelerate market growth and technology cost reduction. Second, politics frequently trumps economics in the real world, and when politicians go wobbly on renewables, the targets help keep investment flowing.”

STA head of external affairs Leonie Greene said: “It is something that Europe has agreed a 40 percent emissions reduction target, albeit not high enough, but renewable energy stands at the heart of achieving this. From a climate perspective Europe needs to expedite, not slow, renewables deployment. From an economic perspective weakening ambition is nonsensical given the massive investments in renewables our international competitors are making. The 27 percent renewables target is no more than the Commission expects under business as usual, so the Council and Parliament must improve this significantly if it’s to have any meaningful effect.”

RenewableUK branded the decision to abandon national targets as a ‘lack of ambition’ and ‘missed opportunity’ to cut carbon emissions. Chief executive Maria McCaffery said:While it is pleasing to see the EU Commission recognise that renewable energy is a key part of future energy solutions across Europe, the lack of ambition in not ensuring there are national binding targets for renewable energy is a disappointment. This is a missed opportunity for member states to take collective and serious action on the drive for clean, sustainable, renewable energy, which is the best option for reducing our carbon emissions.”

UrbanWind chief executive Paul McCullagh said: “We need clarity of policy from central government to provide certainty to the market and particularly investment.

“There is a growing feeling that the government is set to abandon its green pledges and commitment to growing the sector is adding to the uncertainty, which in turn will seriously harm job creation. This is only likely to increase after today’s announcement from the EU on emissions targets, following pressure from the British government.”