Can renewable energy power the world?
Can renewable energy power the world?

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Can renewable energy power the world?

1.7 EU and UK renewable energy prospects 2020–2030

As we have seen, renewable energy sources are already providing a significant and increasing proportion of the world’s primary energy, and here we look briefly at the prospects for renewable energy in the EU as a whole, and in the UK in particular, in coming decades

EU 2020 targets

The EU’s ‘20:20:20’ Directive, passed in 2009, set a target for Europe to achieve by 2020 (European Union, 2011):

  • a 20% reduction in carbon (CO2) emissions.
  • a 20% contribution to gross final energy consumption from renewable sources.
  • a 20% improvement in the efficiency of energy use.

EU member countries have agreed to produce National Renewable Energy Action Plans showing how they propose to contribute to these 20:20:20 targets.

UK 2020 targets

The UK’s 2020 targets include a 15% contribution from renewables. The Government’s Action Plan (DECC, 2010c) concludes that delivering 15% of gross final energy consumption by 2020 is likely to involve renewables supplying approximately:

  • 30% of electricity demand, including 2% from small-scale sources.
  • 12% of heat demand.
  • 10% of transport demand.

Activity 5

Are you aware of any support measures that have been, or could be introduced by the UK Government to ensure these targets are met?


The measures the UK Government has put in place to ensure that these 2020 targets are met include:

  1. A Renewables Obligation (RO) – large-scale electricity suppliers must source a significant proportion of their supplies from renewable sources.
  2. A ‘Feed-in Tariff’ scheme under which premium prices are paid to small-scale generators of renewable electricity.
  3. A Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – incentives to encourage the use of heat-producing renewables.
  4. A Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) – road fuel suppliers are obliged to blend in a proportion of biofuels.
  5. A Green Investment Bank – channelling capital towards renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Those are some of the measures, but what else is in the pipeline?


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