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30 June 2010

Green setback for UK as British power supplied by renewable sources falls

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Fall of 7.5% in power obtained from wind, hydro and other renewable sources blamed on dry winter with low wind speeds

Britain's renewable energy revolution suffered an abrupt setback this winter when the power supplied from wind, hydro and other "clean" sources fell, despite years of promises and policies to end the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and slash global warming pollution, the Guardian can reveal.

The news comes as the government will tomorrow unveil a major report (pdf) into how it will pay for the hundreds of billions of new spending needed to meet the UK's targets for renewable energy and cutting climate change emissions by setting up a new Green Investment Bank (GIB).

Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (pdf) show that the proportion of electricity supplied from renewable sources such as wind and hydro power fell 7.5% in the first three months of this year compared to 2009.

The drop was officially blamed mostly on a dry winter, which reduced power from water turbines, and low wind speeds, leading to the lowest absolute supply from those two sectors for four winters – as far back as the DECC figures recorded.

Experts also expressed concern that renewable energy could also have suffered from a hiatus in investment and from competition from cheap gas from overseas, as the government figures showed the UK became a net importer of gas for the first time in more than 40 years in January to March.

The latest renewable energy figures will be seized by critics and other experts who have long argued that the UK needs fewer reports and targets and more action to support and fund the long-promised low carbon transformation.

(The Guardian)

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