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Renewable Energy Policies and Targets


Deploying low carbon energy generation is one of the most important ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at an international and national scale. In the recent past, energy supply has emitted more greenhouse gases per year than any other sector, both globally and in the UK.


The UK currently has binding targets under the EU’s 2009 Renewable Energy Directive to meet 30% of its electricity demand from renewable generation by 2020. The carbon budgets set under the UK’s own Climate Change Act, however, look far beyond this period – and they all assume significant continued increases in low carbon energy deployment. For example, there are currently 10.8 gigawatts (GW) of installed onshore wind capacity in the UK. CCC recommendations for the adopted 5th carbon budget, however, are based upon the assumption that at least 17 GW of onshore wind will be in place by 2030, even on a ‘low demand’ scenario – and all other scenarios assume at least 20GW.


The UK’s devolved nations, meanwhile, have their own strong objectives for carbon emission reduction and renewable energy deployment: the Scottish Government, for example, has set the target for 100% of its electricity demand to be met from renewable sources by 2020.


While the government has in the past operated various schemes to subsidise the costs of generating electricity from onshore wind, these have been successful in driving down costs. This means that new onshore wind projects no longer receive subsidies and compete directly in the market with gas and other forms of conventional generation.

Image:  Chimney emitting polution into the atmosphere

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