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UK government urged to cut wind power target

Industrial emissions, UK power plant

British business association CBI has called for a major rethink of the UK's energy policy, arguing the government's current approach is putting too much emphasis on increasing wind power generation capacity.

Current policy will lead to too little investment in other forms of energy such as nuclear and clean coal, which risks undermining the country's ambitious long-term climate change goals (EE 21/11/08), says the CBI. It will jeopardise Britain's energy security and it will not reduce emissions cost effectively, it adds.

The call was made ahead of this week's publication of a government plan setting out how the UK will meet its binding target of increasing the share of renewables in final energy consumption to 15% by 2020. The target for renewable electricity must be cut from 32% to 25%, says the CBI.

The UK is heading towards an "uncertain energy future based around intermittent wind power and ad hoc investment in gas-fired power stations requiring large volumes of imported gas" if it does not scale down its wind power ambitions and secure a more balanced energy mix, according to the CBI.

Under existing policy, by 2030 gas would be the largest source of energy (36%), followed by wind power (24%) and nuclear (20%), according to a McKinsey study commissioned by the CBI. Other sources of renewables and clean coal would represent 12% and 8% respectively.

The business association proposes a different approach which would see gas's share reduced to 16% of the energy mix. Nuclear, wind power and clean coal would represent 34%, 20% and 14% respectively. And other renewable sources would increase to 15%.

Under this approach carbon emissions from the power sector would continue to decline between 2020 and 2030 whereas they would remain flat during this period under existing policy, says the CBI. The UK should build 10-15 new nuclear reactors and ensure "clear funding arrangements" for carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plants by June 2010 (EE 08/04/09).

The call was strongly criticised by environmentalists. Greenpeace stressed the nuclear industry's record of delivering cheap energy was "poor", and said firms such as EDF were calling for renewable energy to be constrained because it "has the potential to render new nuclear stations even more uneconomic".


CBI plus press release and report. See also Greenpeace's response.

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