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Barriers to UK Renewable Energy


Yesterday we talked about the decline of coal fired power plants, and how renewable technologies are not being implemented fast enough to counter-act their falling off the power grid.

A press release published last week by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) has announced that our current growth will also fail to meet our 2020 renewable energy target, to be using 15% of renewable energy sources. In fact, only three of the 11 EU member states involved are expected to meet their targets. Those three are Austria, Italy, and Sweden.

Some barriers to renewable energy technologies were published in EREC’s EU Tracking Roadmap 2013. These barriers include:

•    Mixed signals from the government causing low confidence in the renewable sector.
•    Difficulties obtaining planning permission for some technologies.
•    Poor awareness of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and complications of the incentive.

Renewable Energy Association (REA) chief executive Gaynor Hartnell has said the following: “The UK has the most demanding target of all member states except Malta, and much progress has been made from a low starting point... While we appear to have narrowly missed the interim target, prospects for getting on track to meet 15% in 2020 seem remote.”

It seems that the first, and most important thing to do, to hope to ever meet a renewable energy target, is to learn to work together. With different government agencies contradicting each other, and many members of the public strongly opposed to having renewable technologies anywhere near them. As with the upcoming domestic RHI, public information on renewable energies is limited, and often unclear. The further changes to the RHI must be timely, and clear, to help instil some confidence into the scheme.

Work must be done to improve the education and training available for renewable energy. The industry needs not only supporters, but also a workforce capable of installing things like wind farms, biomass boilers, and heat pumps. If the public were properly informed on our energy targets, and all the advantages and disadvantages of renewable technologies, even if they were still opposed, they would at least have had the opportunity to make an informed decision.

Of course, a major hindrance to renewable technologies is the lack of a focused and finalised plan. The government must decide what it wants, and work with industries, and with the public to set the plan in motion.