Between 60-90% of the nation’s energy needs could be met from renewables by 2030 according to the ‘Positive Energy: how renewable electricity can transform the UK by 2030’ report, published today by WWF-UK. This figure is enough to decarbonise the power sector entirely without relying on nuclear power.

The WWF-UK report says the UK is capable of producing up to 90% of energy from solar, wind, tidal and other renewable by 2030.Solar photovoltaics is currently the leading source of renewable energy in the UK, producing 311.166MW of renewable energy since April 2010.

With nearly one quarter of the UK’s ageing power generation capacity due to close overthe coming decade, the report urges “significant investment” in the renewable energy sector.

There is strong evidence that the renewable industry could create many jobs if the UK takes the opportunity to be an early mover in the sector, it notes.

Yet at the same time the report warns against what it calls Government’s “boom and bust” approach that will undermine the UK industries in becoming a renewable leader.

Altogether, WWF-UK has taken six scenarios into consideration for where the UK’s electricity will come from in 2030. The scenarios developed by GL Garrad Hassan (GL GH) all achieve the near decarbonisation of the power sector by 2030 without relying on new nuclear power.

However, in all cases, the scenarios make full provision for ambitious increases in electric vehicles (EVs) and electric heating, to achieve the target.

 Key findings of the report:

  • By 2030, it is perfectly feasible for renewables to meet at least 60% of theUK’s electricity demand
  • It is important to reduce demand for electricity that will substantially reduce the cost of decarbonisation which can be done by offering financial support and incentives to allow demand reduction projects to compete in the market with low-carbon generation
  • Increasing interconnection between UK electricity grid and those in other countries has significant benefits allowing the country to import power when demand is high and export when the supply exceeds the demand
  • The report warns against reliance on gas. “WWF believes there is an inherent risk in building too much new gas plant,” it says adding that once aplant is built, it is in companies’ economic interest to run it as often as possible despiteclimate reasons.  It should only be used infrequently for back up.
  • The government needs to make a greater long-term commitment to renewables. Current assumptions in Government’s Electricity Market Reform consultation indicate that while a 29% renewables share will be achieved by 2020, continued deployment will virtually flatline after that, with only 35% renewables by 2030. This boom and bust approach is bad for business and is likely to undermine UK efforts to become an industrial leader in renewables.

The full report is available below: