Although progress has been made in the decarbonisation of UK energy, net zero ambitions risk not being met due to ‘gaps in policy and investment’.
That is the verdict from the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), which claims that despite clean power and heat technologies seeing a surge in growth between 2018 and 2019 but reduced support schemes and a lack of policy have led to this slowing down since.
In a new report, it argues that although employment figures in renewable energy and clean technology saw a 3.2% increase in the last year, this number needs to be much higher if the oil and gas industry is to successfully transition to net zero.
It states that 140,000 people were employed in this sector throughout 2019 and 2020. The REA also stresses that although they are distributed all across the UK, these jobs are more weighted towards London and Southeast England.
“Despite the increase in renewable energy generation, it is clear that progress is being shackled by the reductions in tariff support and gaps in government policy.” – Dr Nina Skorupska
The findings show that 12.3% of the UK’s energy mix was made up by renewables in 2019 but the report claims it is unlikely that the country will meet its 15% target for 2020 based on recent growth rates. This is despite the power sector seeing 34.85% of its energy come from renewable sources in 2019, an increase on the 31.07% recorded in 2018.
Stagnation in renewable technologies other than bioenergy is linked to gaps in government heat policy and the reduction of tariff rates under the Renewable Heat Incentive, suggests the REA.
It highlights that photovoltaic (PV) solar currently produces more than 10% of all renewable generation, with wind comprising the biggest proportion at a staggering 53%.
Dr Nina Skorupska, CEO of REA, said: “REview21 underlines the continuing resourcefulness, ingenuity and dedication of our industry and we have seen growth right across the board.
“However, despite the increase in renewable energy generation, it is clear that progress is being shackled by the reductions in tariff support and gaps in government policy.
“If the sector continues to receive patchy and short-term support from the government then we could fall well short of our sector’s and indeed the country’s economic potential. We need these new jobs to be fairly distributed across every region and country that makes up the UK too.
“If the government is serious about reaching their net zero ambitions and about ‘levelling up’, they need to back our sector, remove the barriers preventing the growth of our technologies and help us deliver new jobs and investment.
“2021, the year the UK is hosting COP26, must be a watershed moment. The time for rhetoric is over, we need to see action.”