Energy secretary Chris Huhne says UK companies have announced plans for nearly £2.5 billion worth of renewable energy investment in 2012. Alex Blackburne looks into what this will mean for the sector.
By 2020, the UK’s aim is to have renewable energy contribute 15% of its total energy output. This task has been boosted by the announcement that some £2.5 billion is to be invested into renewable energy projects this year.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) expects the investment sum will, in turn, create 12,000 new jobs in the sector.
“Renewable energy is not just helping us increase our energy security and reduce our emissions. It is supporting jobs and growth across the country, and giving traditional industrial heartlands the opportunity to thrive again”, said energy secretary, Chris Huhne.
“Our renewable target is less demanding than other EU member states, but the effect is bringing real jobs and investment.
A standalone report to the European Commission detailed how the UK achieved a 27% increase in renewable energy consumption from 42.6TWh in 2008 to 54TWh in 2010 – a figure that represented 3.3% of total energy consumed.
Furthermore, wind generation – a sector in which the UK is becoming increasingly influential – rose by 46% from 7TWh in 2008 to 10.2TWh in 2010, whilst the use of biofuels in transport climbed to 3.33% from just 1%.
“I do not want the UK to be left behind by turning our back on the green economy”, Huhne concluded.
“The agreement to negotiate a global deal secured at Durban has reinforced major nations’ commitment to cutting carbon. We cannot afford to stand alone while the world wises up.”
Ed Gill, head of external affairs at 100% renewable electricity provider, Good Energy, said the news was positive, but that there was still a long way to go.
“These figures are an improvement on last year and really demonstrate how renewables are contributing to economic growth, but there is clearly much more we need to do”, he said.
“With the UK’s reliance on importing fossil fuels from abroad pushing energy bills sky-high, we need investment in our renewable energy infrastructure more than ever so we can control our costs and reduce carbon emissions“.
Gill commented on what was needed in the future in order for the renewables industry to thrive.
“Going forward we need to attract finance for projects at a range of sizes and across a variety of renewable technologies to help us maximise the potential of the huge resources we have in the UK.
“That will also give people the opportunity to be more directly involved in the energy they use, through schemes like the FiT (feed-in tariff), giving them greater control of their costs and their ability to reduce their emissions.”
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