UK, Ireland and France lagging on EU renewable targets

Nine Member States hit their 2020 renewables targets by 2014, but the Netherlands, UK, Ireland, and France face challenge to deliver on legally-binding goals The UK, France, Ireland and the Netherlands are lagging behind other EU Member States in the rush to meet legally-binding renewable energy targets for 2020, according to new 2014 data released yesterday by the European Union.

UK, Ireland and France lagging on EU renewable targetsThe statistics show that in 2014 nine Member States had already met their national 2020 targets for renewable energy, including Croatia, Estonia, Italy and Sweden. However, France, the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland were shown to be furthest away from their goals, raising fears some countries will fail to meet the targets, running the risk of multi-million euro fines.

Each Member State has its own 2020 renewable energy share target, weighted according to each country's differing starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance.

The statistics show that in 2014 the UK was eight percentage points away from achieving its target of renewables contributing 15 per cent to its total energy mix. In contrast, some countries have already cruised past their targets. For example in Sweden, which has a 2020 target for sourcing 49 per cent of energy from renewables, renewable energy already accounted for 52.6 per cent of the total energy mix in 2014. Meanwhile, Croatia's target for 2020 is 20 per cent, but by 2014 the total contribution of renewables already surpassed this, hitting 27.9 per cent.

Overall, the EU is still four percentage points away from its bloc-wide target of achieving a 20 per cent share of renewable energy in its total energy mix by 2020.

In November UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd admitted the UK is off-course for its 2020 targets. In a leaked letter she revealed that lack of progress on renewable heat and transport fuels meant the UK is currently predicted to fall short of its 15 per cent target.

The government has subsequently promised to come forward with a plan to ensure the 2020 target is met. In response to the new figures, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said the UK continues to make progress towards its overall renewables target, with 6.3 per cent of energy coming from renewable sources - exceeding the UK's interim target of 5.4 per cent.

"We have seen good increases in renewable generation across electricity, heat and transport and are working across government to keep up this momentum and put the right policies in place to secure a cleaner energy future," he added.

In related news, figures released yesterday by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) revealed that China has overtaken the EU to become the world's top region for wind power, adding an "astonishing" 30.GW of new capacity. The country's total wind capacity is now 145.1GW - the largest anywhere in the world.

It is the first time China has overtaken the EU in the race for wind energy, despite the trading bloc adding 12.8GW of new wind installations last year, taking its total capacity to 141.6GW.

Global wind capacity soared by 17 per cent last year to 432GW, according to the GWEC, as governments stepped up the push for low-carbon energy ahead of the UN climate summit in December.

"Wind power is leading the charge in the transition away from fossil fuels," Steve Sawyer, secretary general of GWEC, said in a statement. "Wind is blowing away the competition on price, performance and reliability, and we're seeing new markets open up across Africa, Asia and Latin America which will become the market leaders of the next decade."


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