Lord Turner: 'We must act now to meet energy targets'

Lord Turner, the chairman of the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC), is calling for a "step change" in government policy if Britain is to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets.

In a letter to Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, Lord Turner outlines several issues to be addressed "as a matter of urgency" to ensure Britain is producing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources within 10 years as planned.

The CCC remains supportive of both the headline target, and the estimation that within it some 30 per cent of UK electricity will need to come from renewables, requiring a massive expansion of offshore wind generating capacity in particular.

But to secure the necessary infrastructure investment – which is estimated at up to £150bn – the Government must move quickly to finalise the regulatory arrangements for transmission of electricity from offshore wind farms to the onshore grid. They must agree to investment in the much-needed upgrade of the onshore transmission network, and cut the delays in the planning regime, Lord Turner says. "Meeting the 2020 renewable energy target requires a step change in the rate of progress and entails significant delivery risks, which should be addressed as a matter of urgency," he said.

The CCC is calling on the Government to stress the priority of low-carbon generating capacity in the National Policy Statement for energy – due to go out to consultation this autumn – which is designed to streamline the planning procedure.

Other key concerns include measures to address the uncertainty over changes to the existing Renewables Obligation support mechanism and the review of the electricity market. The CCC also raises for consideration the possibility of support for offshore wind farms through the £2bn Green Investment Bank plan included in the Government's Coalition Agreement.

So far, progress towards Britain's green targets has been too slow. Only about 1 gigawatt of new wind power generation was turned on last year – a level that needs to rise to 3GW per year by 2020. And so far only 3 per cent of UK energy is from renewable sources such as wind farms or solar panels.