A lot of hot air
As the world of renewable energy takes yet another twist in the race to help the United Kingdom achieve its renewable energy targets for 2020, Britain’s leading renewable energy association, Renewable UK, is threatening to sue the UK government if they approve plans to slash subsidies which are set aside for offshore wind.
The association is set to take action if government ministers do indeed cave in to the pressure that is being applied by Tory backbenchers over the subsidies. To couple with this, Siemens AG are themselves applying their own pressure to the decision as they are planning to set up a new blade factory and port complex for the North Sea. Warning Whitehall, they have stated that they simply cannot wait much longer for the decision to be made.
Not too long ago, the Department of Energy and Climate Change stated that it would be cutting the subsidies by 10 percent. After much confusion and political jostling, that figure has now said to have risen by 25 percent.
Although this is indeed not an overly political subject, the involvement of over 100 Tory backbenchers urging David Cameron to slash the subsidies has brought political wrangling into the world of renewable energy.
The primary reason for slashing the subsidies for wind farms is the claim that they are ‘inefficient,’ causing an outcry by wind farm supporters.
All of this is coming to a head during a race against the clock, where if Britain fails to meet its Kyoto targets, the government faces stiff financial fines set out by the European Union (EU). Although already facing hefty fines by the EU due to the poor air quality in large cities, Energy Secretary Ed Davey stated earlier this year that the United Kingdom is well on its way to meeting those targets. Based on 1990 levels, the country has three targets in three differing areas: emission cuts, renewable reliance increase and increased fuel efficiency.
By 2020, the country must:
- Yield a 20 percent cut in greenhouse emissions.
- Show a 20 percent increase in the use of renewable energy.
- Demonstrate a 20 percent cut in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency.
In addition to these targets (which are now a mere eight years away), the 1997 Kyoto agreement states that by 2050, 80 percent emission cuts must be made, which is a legally binding deal. Only Canada has since withdrawn from the Protocol, with the United States making little or no movement on the agreement since 1997.
But how integral is the wind power to meeting Britain’s energy targets?