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UK on course to meet its 2020 carbon objectives

By Katie Anderson on December 27, 2012

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced that the UK is on course to meet its environmental targets.

A report published on Thursday suggests the country will generate sufficient renewable energy by 2020 to satisfy carbon objectives, which include consuming at least 15 per cent of energy (domestic, commercial, industrial and infrastructural) from renewable sources.

Renewable sources of energy include the sun, wind and sea. Geothermal heat pumps are also becoming more popular in British households, but most green energy is produced by solar photovoltaic panels, which are usually installed on rooftops.

Solar panels are particularly appealing to British households because the government (i.e., taxpayers and energy consumers) subsidises the cost of buying and installing arrays via Feed-In Tariffs (FITs), which are paid to those who generate electricity from solar panels.

The current rate for domestic (4kW) systems is 15.44p/kWh, which is substantially lower than the 43.3p/kWh offered in late 2011. MPs argue that the falling cost of manufacturing solar panels justifies the reduction in FITs, the latest round of which came into effect on the 1st November, but the solar industry is concerned that lower rates will result in fewer installations. The evidence suggests the industry has cause for concern. In September, figures published by the DECC showed that installations in August 2012 were down by nearly 75 per cent on the previous year.

Considering the manner in which the British Government has handled solar subsidies, news of the UK’s steady march towards meeting its energy targets in 2020 will come as a surprise to many industry experts. The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive requires the UK to produce almost a third of its energy (30 per cent) from renewable sources by 2020. At least 15 per cent of total consumption should be from renewable sources such as wind and solar. These ambitious targets were certainly made no easier when government thrice lowered FITs in 2012, but according to the DECC the UK somehow remains on course to meet targets.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey confirmed that electricity produced in the UK from renewable sources increased by 27 per cent between July 2011 and June 2012, accounting for 10 per cent of total supply.