UK ‘needs war on energy’

The UK needs to operate on a "war footing" to meet the demanding targets for increasing renewable energy capacity.

According to a leading figure in the renewable energy industry, Government needs to take the reins and give more direction to the push for renewable energy to allow change to happen more quickly.

Dr Malcolm Kennedy, non-executive director of the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC), said that the country needed to focus on a single goal, or “enemy”, as would be the case in wartime.

But the current drive towards more renewable energy is being made against the backdrop of three competing aims – the environment, energy security and price – he said.

Without central direction to focus on one goal, the UK cannot meet its own targets or those set by the EU, he told delegates at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on Monday.

“Until we decide that there’s some kind of a war footing, we will not achieve or get anywhere near to the targets that we have set ourselves or that have been set for us,” Dr Kennedy said.

Government has set a target of generating 10% of electricity from renewable sources in just two years’ time, and has to meet an EU target of sourcing 15% of all energy from renewables by 2015.

Concerns were also raised about the ability of the National Grid to cope with increasing renewable energy generation, particularly from offshore wind.

Ian Burdon, head of sustainable energy developments at PB Power, said: “I don’t think people out there – the public at large – appreciate what it means in terms of new power lines across the country.

“There’s great opposition to the construction of new transmission, which will certainly be required.”

Danielle Lane, project manager of the Crown Estate’s latest round of offshore wind farm schemes, agreed that central direction and grid capacity were key to the future success of offshore wind.

“There needs to be an element of planning strategy with this,” she said. “It’s a programme of massive infrastructure development.”

Kate Martin

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