As Britain attempts to increase its renewable energy output by 2020, can the UK match the growth with skills?
In January 2010 President Barack Obama stood up in front of the US Congress and delivered a clear message to America and to the world in his State of Union address.
“Energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.”
It was a powerful sentiment that set out the importance world leaders should place on green energy, and sounded the gun for the rush to become the world leader in green tech.
Whether you see it as the carrot or the stick, one major incentive driving renewable energy policy in the UK is the target set by during the EU’s 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. The goal is to achieve 20 per cent of the EU’s energy consumption from renewables by 2020.
Given its dependence on traditional fuels the UK target was set at 15 per cent. This lower target hasn’t been a chance for us to rest up and as a certain Cadburys caramel bunny would say, “Take it easy”.
According to the Renewable Energy Association (REA) our most recent data showed our renewable energy consumption at 3.3 per cent – to edge past the 15 per cent mark, renewable consumption would need to increase by 16 per cent every year over this decade.
This sounds difficult but according to the REA, it’s not impossible. “It’s an ambitious challenge but one that is achievable if government puts the right framework in place.
“The industry has consistently shown that, given the right support, it can gear up rapidly and rise to the challenge,” it said in its recent report Renewable energy: Made in Britain.
Sector set to rocket
It’s not just governments jumping on the clean energy bandwagon – it is a goal that is valued and shared by most of the public too according to recent polls.
When Friends of the Earth buddied up with YouGov last month to ask 2,884 people about the big energy question, almost nine out of 10 people wanted to see government put more effort into the UK’s renewable energy efforts.
The results of the survey have not presented unknown sympathies towards clean energy, they follow other similar polls which have found comparable support.
In November The Sunday Times found 76 per cent of respondents believe the Government should be ‘looking to use more’ solar power, and 56 per cent felt the same way for wind – while 60 per cent believe Government is right to subsidise wind.
Similarly The Guardian foundin January that 60 per cent of the public would actively support the development of wind energy in their locality, while only 27 per cent would actively oppose.