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UK policy objectives

The UK Government has set overall targets for renewable energy for 2020, 2030 and 2050, and as part of that there are sectoral targets for the heat, power and transport sectors. Heat is by far the largest sector. However there are no individual targets for biomass - or indeed any other form of renewable energy

The UK is legally bound [1] to provide for 15% of its energy needs) - including 30% of its electricity, 12% of its heat, and 10% of its transport fuel-from renewable sources by 2020.

Most industry experts believe the Government will meet the electricity sub-target, but success in this sector will not compensate for underperformance in heat and transport. It is not yet halfway towards 12% in heat [2] (and the proportion of renewable energy used in transport fell in 2016).

Sources of UK renewable energy and current progress to targets

By 2015: 22.31% of electricity, 5.64% of heat, and 4.23% of transport fuel consumption was met by renewable sources: this equates to 8.31% of all energy [3]. Given the 15% target (which itself is low compared to all other EU countries) is now only 3 years away, the Government has a major challenge.

Biomass dominates the supply of UK renewable energy, as shown in the pie chart:

UK Sources of Renewable Energy 2015

Source: DUKES 2015 Renewable sources of energ (BEIS, 2015)

[1] Under the 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive

[2] And heat is about 50% of total UK energy use, with electricity less than 25%.

[3] Source: BEIS, Digest of UK Energy Statistics; Renewable sources of energy (DUKES 6.7), July 2016