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Leaked letter reveals the truth of UK renewable energy progress - 11 November

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A leaked letter from Energy Secretary Amber Rudd admits that the UK does not have the right policies to meet its EU target of sourcing 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. The letter reveals a 50TWh (terawatt hour) shortfall: almost 25% of its EU obligation. This contradicts Rudd’s public rhetoric, who claimed that the removal of Renewables Obligation and Feed In Tariff subsidies were justified since the UK Government was “meeting…renewables targets, it was right to limit the amount of money we were spending”.

Failure to meet the European Directive’s legally binding targets for the UK to source 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 could lead to the imposition of ongoing fines until the UK meets its targets.

More worryingly, Rudd proposes that the UK meets this renewable energy deficit by using biofuels, and importing energy from abroad. Current levels of biofuels are set to double between 2017 and 2020, which would add around 2p per litre onto fuel prices but also raises considerable questions regarding deforestation to accommodate these crops, and the already limited availability of sustainable feed for livestock. By importing energy, the UK would be spending money which could be used to go into home-grown renewable programmes. This would face a considerable public and industry backlash, as the solar industry alone is set to lose 27,000 jobs as a result of subsidy cuts.

This leaked letter highlights the issues of the Government’s energy policy: cutting support for the cheapest forms of domestic renewable energy production whilst buying imported power. This leaves the UK in a precarious position in the build-up to the UN COP21 conference in Paris, as the credibility of the UK to commit to a renewable energy future and cut carbon emissions has taken a significant blow.

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