The UK Government has fallen well short on its renewable energy targets, according to a report released by the National Audit Office (NAO).
The Whitehall spending watchdog blames a lack of clear co-ordination for the missed target of generating 10 percent of the UK's electricity from renewable sources.
According to the NAO, the latest available data from 2008 reveals that only 5.5 percent of power was produced by green technology and just 2.3 percent of all its energy was generated from renewables.
In its report, the NAO says Government funding for developing renewable energy technologies has delivered technology innovation and increased the supply of renewable energy.
However, it adds that co-ordination has historically been limited and the absence of a consistent approach to measuring and reporting on the impact of this support means the overall value for money of spending to date cannot be demonstrated.
Numerous schemes offering direct support for renewable energy technologies have been launched during the last decade by various government departments and delivery bodies.
Reflecting their own objectives and remits, each organization has determined its approach and spending on renewable energy technologies.
Co-ordination among delivery bodies has historically been limited and there has been no routine collection of information on the spending and delivery by these schemes and their contribution to meeting the 2020 target for renewable energy and the longer-term statutory commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
The National Audit Office found that government-funded direct support for renewable energy technology had totalled £265 million between 2000 and 2009. This funding is separate from support provided through fiscal and regulatory measures, including the Renewables Obligation, which in 2008-09 provided financial support worth around £1 billion.
The Government’s target, originally set in 2000, was to obtain 10 percent of UK electricity supplies from renewable sources by the end of 2010.
However, according to the NAO report the latest available data from 2008 shows that only 2.3 percent of UK energy was generated from renewable sources, and it writes: “… To meet the 2020 renewable energy target the Department will have to drive a seven-fold increase.”
The Government’s medium-term requirement to meet the legally-binding obligation established under the EU Renewable Energy Directive 2009 is to increase the proportion of all the UK’s energy needs, covering electricity, heat and transport, which are supplied from renewable sources to 15 percent by 2020.
The available evidence suggests direct support has contributed to an increase in renewable energy generation. For example, the Department’s Offshore Wind Capital Grants Scheme contributed to an increase in renewable electricity equivalent to 14 percent of total renewable generating capacity in 2008.
Industry has had to seek funding from many short-term schemes to support long-term projects, but there is evidence that funding has successfully supported innovation.
Since taking on responsibility for renewable energy policy in October 2008, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has delivered a renewable energy strategy and it is now developing a supporting delivery plan.
This provides an opportunity to improve co-ordination, consistency and the value for money achieved from Government funding for developing renewable energy technologies.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today: "The Department needs a more strategic approach to delivering government funding for renewable energy technologies. This requires clearer plans, better information, improved co-ordination and a more consistent approach to assessing results.
“At present the 2020 target looks optimistic.
“The Department should complete work on developing its renewable energy plans as a matter of urgency, and agree responsibilities with delivery bodies for implementing the plan."