EU renewable energy target of 20% can be met by 2020

“Labour talks green, but doesn’t act green”

London and Oxford – 13 August 2007

“Britain has the wind, wave, tidal, hydro and solar energy potential to meet the EU target of generating 20% of our energy from renewable resources by 2020,” said Peter Tatchell, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

“The government talks green, but it fails to put its money where its mouth is,” he added.

“Labour’s renewable energy programme is a shambles. It lacks leadership, commitment, imagination and funding.”

Mr Tatchell was commenting on revelations that government officials have privately admitted that Britain will, at best, generate only 9% of its energy from renewables by 2020 – not even reaching half the EU target agreed by Tony Blair in the spring.

“The government is failing to prioritise renewable energy, preferring to squander public money on other projects,” said Mr Tatchell.

“Gordon Brown is planning to waste £100 billion on Trident nuclear missiles, ID cards, two super aircraft carriers and more road building and nuclear power stations.

“This money could be used to fund investment in world-class renewable energy projects.

“The government’s own estimates, commissioned from the Carbon Trust, suggest that the UK has the potential to secure all its energy needs from renewable resources.

“Off-shore wind farms could comfortably generate the same amount of electricity as 12.5 nuclear power stations. Wave power could match the electricity output of 8.5 nuclear reactors.

“Tidal power is another major option. It could produce around 12% of our electricity needs. Just one project, the proposed Severn estuary tidal lagoons scheme, has the potential to fulfil 6% of the UK’s electricity demand. An additional 6% of UK demand could be met by tidal schemes in the Thames and Humber estuaries.

“Other renewable sources include solar power. Within five years, Germany will generate as much of its electricity from solar power as we currently generate from nuclear (around 20%). We could match and exceed Germany if we made solar tiles the universal, mandatory roofing material for all domestic, industrial, commercial and public buildings.

“Another alternative is rolling hydro power, which involves placing turbines on river-beds to capture the power of river flows and the installation of mini-hydro schemes on small rivers and even streams.

“A new frontier renewable technology is hydro pressure from the gas pipe network. Mini-turbines in gas pipes could utilise natural variations and changes in gas pressure to produce electricity. This technology is already being trialled successfully in the US, Switzerland and Italy.

“Geo-thermal power has some potential in the UK, but our best bet would to import from Iceland electricity generated from its geo-thermal (and hydro) sources.

“One other possible renewable import is electricity produced by concentrated solar power. This involves giant mirror farms in desert regions like southern Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and North Africa, which concentrate the sun’s rays to create intense heat to drive turbines and generate electricity. By covering less than 1% of the world’s desert regions with concentrated solar power stations, we could produce enough power to meet the entire world’s electricity needs,” concluded Mr Tatchell.

To see in more detail how Britain could easily meet the EU target of 20% renewables by 2020, watch Peter Tatchell’s TV interview with Roger Higman, campaigns coordinator of Friends of the Earth, where he outlines safe, clean sustainable alternatives to Labour’s proposed nuclear power expansion programme: