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The Government aims to increase renewable energy from 1.8 per cent to 15 per cent of energy consumption by 2020, in line with European Commission proposals. This report looks at the economics of renewable energy given the Government's policy to reduce carbon emissions.
This title is divided into seven chapters. Chapter 1 presents an introduction while Chapter 2 gives a brief overview of Britain's energy system and outlines the Government's energy policy objectives. Chapter 3 examines the different renewable technologies used to generate electricity and compares generation costs between them, contrasting them with fossil fuel-fired plants and nuclear power. Chapter 4 looks at the issues involved in balancing the irregular supply from renewable generators, which depend on weather conditions against the continuous demand for electricity. The potential for renewable sources of heat and of transport fuels - an overlooked area even though they account for 80 per cent of UK energy consumption - is examined in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 reviews the key policy issues, the impact of renewable policy on fuel poverty, the planning system for renewable energy, and whether the 15 per cent EU target is achievable. Chapter 7 presents the Committee's conclusions and recommendations.
The Committee finds that costs of renewable energy generation are more than conventional means. It recommends that the Government prioritise the development and promotion of the other effective and economic options, both to bring down carbon dioxide emissions and to achieve security of electricity supply. The most reliable renewable sources are tidal barrage and biomass, which are problematic for other reasons, and hydro-power, which is near the limit of its potential in the UK. The most reliable low-carbon alternative to renewables is nuclear power, together with conventional fossil fuel generation with carbon capture and storage (if and when that becomes available). The accompanying "The Economics of Renewable Energy - Volume II: Evidence (HL 195-II)" (ISBN 9780104013755) is available to buy separately.,