UK to cut emissions by 34% by 2020 – investing £450m in renewable and clean energy

The goals for 2020 include that over 1.2m people will be in so-called green jobs, 7m homes will see pay-as-you-save home energy makeovers, and more than 1.5m households will be supported to produce their own renewable energy. 40% of electricity will be from low carbon sources, from renewables, nuclear and clean coal – reducing gas imports by 50%, and new cars will on average emit 40% less carbon.

The Government pledges that the plan will not result in increased energy bills by 2015, but that by 2020, “the impact of ALL climate change policies, both existing and new, will be to add, on average, an additional 8% - or £92 – to today’s household bills.”

With the plan, key industries including offshore wind, marine power and carbon capture and storage, could benefit from the first allocations from the £405m funding for green industry and technology announced in the Budget.

The UK has also allocated carbon budgets to its Government departments to run alongside financial budgets. All in the name of cutting emissions by 34% by 2020 and by at least 80% by 2050.

Renewable Energy Strategy and Low Carbon Transport Plan

The Government has also published the Renewable Energy Strategy which maps out how it will deliver the UK’s target of getting 15% of all energy (electricity, heat and transport) from renewables by 2020, and the Government’s Low Carbon Transport Plan which sets out how to reduce carbon emissions from domestic transport by up to 14% over the next decade.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: “Renewables, nuclear and clean fossil fuels are the trinity of low carbon and the future of energy in Britain. Under our plans we will get 40% of our electricity from low carbon energy by 2020 and more in the years afterwards. … In five months, the world must come together at Copenhagen and follow through on the commitment of world leaders last week to stop dangerous climate change. Today we have shown how Britain will play its part.”

Sector by sector

Utilities and transmission (Smart Grid)

Making electricity greener will achieve around 50% of the annual emissions cuts between now and 2020, with an expected 40% of electricity to come from low carbon sources by 2020 – 30% from renewables, the rest from nuclear (including new build) and clean coal.

To achieve this, up to £6m will be given to start development of a Smart Grid, including a policy road map in the spring of 2010. DECC is to take direct responsibility from Ofgem for establishing a new grid access regime within one year.

The Government has also announced the launch of the new Office for Renewable Energy Deployment in DECC to speed up the growth of renewables in the UK. £11.2m will be given to help regions and local authorities prepare for and speed up planning decisions on renewable and low carbon energy.

A consultation is also ongoing covering the changes to the existing Renewables Obligation, such as extending the life-time of the RO to at least 2037 and the introduction of a 20 year limit on support, to make it capable of delivering some 30% of our electricity from renewables.

Investing in offshore renewables

The Government has pledged further investment in offshore renewable energy technologies and industry.

The offshore wind industry will receive up to £120m, whereas wave and tidal energy could see up to £60m which includes:

  • Up to £9.5m investment in the Wave Hub sub-sea socket off Cornwall and up to a further £10m funding to make the South West the UK’s first Low Carbon Economic Area;
  • Up to £10m for testing facilities at the National Renewable Energy Centre in Northumberland and up to £8m for the European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkneys;
  • Up to £22m for a new Marine Renewables Proving Fund for testing and demonstration of wave and tidal technologies.


The UK will spend £6m to explore areas of potential ‘hot rocks’ to be used for geothermal energy. The deep geothermal resource of the South West of England alone could meet 2% of annual UK electricity demand, the DECC says.

Domestic energy and FiT

Around 15% of the annual emissions cuts between now and 2020 will be achieved making homes more efficient and supporting small scale renewable energy, DECC says.

Consultation on the shape and rates of a new feed-in tariff (FiT) is to be in place by April 2010. A similar scheme for renewable heat will follow in April 2011. The current CERT energy efficiency programme will be extended by a year to 2012.


Around 20% of the annual emissions cuts between now and 2020 will be achieved by in the transport sector. By 2050, road and rail transport could be largely de-carbonised.

The Government is releasing details on the kinds of electric and plug-in hybrid cars that could qualify for the £2-5000 consumer incentives expected to apply from 2011. This includes the requirement for the vehicle to have maximum tailpipe emissions of 75g CO2/km. An update has also been published on the infrastructure framework which is supporting this scheme.

Agricultural emission cuts

The agriculture sector could contribute with 5% to the annual emissions by 2020. Among the provisions, is support for anaerobic digestion, which turns waste and manure into renewable energy.

Industry reactions to follow…