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Without stronger Government action and a greater focus on community-scale generation, the UK risks missing its EU commitment to produce 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, a new report from Friends of the Earth warns today [Tuesday 27 July 2010]. 

Major policy changes such as better incentives are needed to plug the UK into green power recommends the report, commissioned by environmental campaigning charity and led by sustainable energy expert Dr. Jim Watson.

These recommendations come on the same day [Tuesday 27 July 2010] that Chris Huhne makes a Commons speech on renewable energy and wind power policy.

The report stresses the crucial role local authorities have to play in generating community-scale energy through schemes like hydro plants and wind turbines.

While the UK is making progress on large-scale energy generation such as offshore wind, and small-scale generation such as domestic solar panels, a much greater focus is needed on community-scale schemes to hit the renewables target, the report advises.

Friends of the Earth’s senior climate campaigner Tony Bosworth said:

“The Government must show leadership by making vital policy changes to make sure we hit our EU target and produce more renewable power.

“Local authorities are key to effectively tackling climate change – and they are best placed to deliver community-scale green electricity schemes that will help us meet renewable energy targets, as well as create jobs and slash fuel bills for people living in the area.

“We need a nationwide system of local carbon budgets, setting a fair cap on CO₂ emissions in each council area, to help every council play its part in tackling climate change by leading ambitious carbon-cutting strategies such as generating green energy, insulating homes and improving public transport.”

The report also advocates better financial incentives to attract essential investment for developing renewable energy.

It says shortcomings of the current system – the Renewables Obligation (RO) – have slowed progress so far, and recommends replacing the RO with a feed-in tariff (FIT) that delivers a more certain return.

Former MP Alan Simpson, now Sustainable Energy Advisor to Friends of the Earth, said: 

“For too long the UK has been in the European slow lane on renewable energy, despite having some of the continent’s greatest potential for producing clean power. The current incentives system – the Renewables Obligation – is a labyrinthine mess.

“The Government needs to give green energy investors a bit of TLC: transparency, longevity and certainty are the key qualities that make feed-in tariff incentive schemes such a success in countries like Germany and Spain.

“These Government guarantees are essential if we’re to kick-start a renewable energy boom and transform the UK’s power supply to safe, clean sources.”

The report’s other main findings include:

· A Green Investment Bank is urgently needed, which should focus its attention on funding an overhaul of the UK’s energy networks – the pipes and wires that enable our energy system to function – so they can cope with a rapid growth of renewables.

·  Industrial policy should be transparent, and balanced between supporting technologies that will help meet our EU target and those that could make big contributions beyond 2020, with independent monitoring to promote success and identify failure.


Notes to Editors:

  • Alan Simpson (Labour MP for Nottingham South 1992-2010) is helping Friends of the Earth explain and develop policy on sustainable and decentralised energy and renewable heat. He is available for interview and comment pieces.  
  • The report was written by Dr. Jim Watson, Dr Lee Stapleton and Dr Ivan Scrase of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex. Renewable energy expert Dr Watson is available for comment and interview.
  • You can read the full report, Transforming the UK’s Energy System, here:¬
  • Friends of the Earth led the successful campaign for FITs, introduced April 2010, which guarantee a set payment per unit of green energy generated by businesses, local authorities and households, for up to 25 years.
  • A briefing on Local Carbon Budgets is available here:¬
  • Friends of the Earth believes the environment is for everyone. We want a healthy planet and a good quality of life for all those who live on it. We inspire people to act together for a thriving environment. More than 90 per cent of our income comes from individuals so we rely on donations to continue our vital work. For further information visit
If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.


Published by Friends of the Earth Trust