Top researcher says EU targets cannot be met without big rise in government support

Despite renewable energy incentives announced in the Budget, it will be virtually impossible for the UK to meet its European targets, a senior energy researcher said yesterday.

Jim Skea, research director at the UK Energy Research Centre (ERC) said yesterday that reaching the 15% renewable capacity required by the EU would require a large increase in state support.

He said: “Renewables can make a significant contribution, but if you look at the scale of what is required, I think that is very, very challenging and 2020 is almost tomorrow when you look at what needs to be achieved.”

Professor Skea added that the price of carbon had to be set higher to improve takeup of low-carbon technologies and increase investment in energy research. This has fallen from £700m a year in the 1970s and 1980s to just £100m annually today.

Cutting emissions by 80% was achievable, he said, but would require a shift in behaviours including the phasing out of petrol vehicles.