UK on track to hit 2020 green energy targets -DECC

LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The UK is on track to meet its

2020 renewable energy targets after low-carbon electricity

generation grew more than a quarter in the year to end-June

2012, thanks largely to new solar and offshore wind projects, a

government report said.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said

renewable energy accounted for over 10 percent of total

electricity supplied in the 12 months to end-June.

Renewable power output grew 27 percent from July 2011,

according to the UK's latest Renewable Energy Roadmap status

report released on Thursday.

"Renewable energy is increasingly powering the UK's grid,

and the economy too," Energy Secretary Edward Davey, who heads

DECC, said in a statement that accompanied the report.

"It's a fantastic achievement that more than 10 percent of

our power now comes from renewables, given the point from which

we started," he said.

Britain has a target to produce 15 percent of its energy,

including electricity, heat and transport, from renewable

sources by 2020 in a bid to cut climate-warming emissions.

This means that 30 percent of the UK's electricity must come

from renewables by the end of the decade, the government said,

with wind playing a leading role.

"Right now, getting new infrastructure investment into the

economy is crucial to driving growth and supporting jobs across

the country ... I am determined that we get ahead in the global

race on renewables and build on the big-money investments we've

seen this year," Davey said.

DECC has identified around 12.7 billion pounds ($20.6

billion) of confirmed and planned renewable investment by

companies between April 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012, potentially

creating around 22,800 jobs.

The department, which expects the growth in renewables to

continue or accelerate, predicts the industry will support

400,000 direct jobs by 2020, up from around 110,000 jobs

currently.

Government subsidies have played a key role in encouraging

investment, however, and economic difficulties have put pressure

on support schemes.

Government departments have reined in spending, though

officials say the falling costs of the technology mean that less

support is required to encourage take-up.

Offshore wind power capacity grew by 60 percent to 2.5

gigawatts (GW), while onshore wind grew by 24 percent to 5.3 GW,

according to figures in the Renewable Energy Roadmap report.

Solar photovoltaics recorded the highest growth with an

increase of five and a half times to 1.4 GW in capacity by the

end of June 2012, the report said.

Industry group RenewableUK welcomed the findings of the

report.

"The update is spot on. It highlights the sector's dynamic

growth and the healthy pipeline of wind, wave and tidal projects

to come," RenewableUK Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith said.

"It's right to note that costs are falling steadily, so

renewables will continue to offer even better value for money

for all of us," he said, adding that it will help stabilise the

price of energy.

In November, Britain set out plans to triple support for

low-carbon power generation by 2020 in order to help replace

ageing fossil fuel power plants with less polluting

alternatives.

The outlay will be clawed back through higher energy bills.

Under the agreed Levy Control Framework, spending on

low-carbon power generation will increase to 7.6 billion pounds

a year in real terms by 2020, from the current 2.35 billion

pounds, to reduce dependence on gas.

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