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The UK has missed its 2010 renewable energy target by a large margin, according to a report by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF).

The figures cast doubt on whether the country will meet its obligations under the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive of 15 percent of final energy consumption.

REF analysis of data from the Department of Climate Change and Energy (DECC) and Ofgem, the UK’s electricity regulator, shows that in 2010, renewable electricity generation accounted for only 6.5 percent of supply, well short of the stated 10 percent goal.

Wind farms account for the majority of renewable energy supply in the UK, a sector which suffered from poor “Load Factor” due to low winds in 2010. Onshore wind Load Factor in 2010 fell to 21%, as opposed to 27% in 2009, while offshore fared better declining from 30% in 2009 to 29% in 2010.

However, the REF notes that even if wind speeds had exceeded ten-year averages, the target would still have been missed by a long way. These factors have caused significant difficulties for project economics, particularly Internal Rate of Return (IRR), and future cost of capital.

To date the UK has spent over £6 billion (AUD$9.3 billion) on meeting the 2010 renewable energy target and the EU’s Directive; wasted money, according to Dr John Constable, Director of Policy and Research for REF.

“The EU’s renewable targets have long been known to lack credibility and clarity of purpose. The UK results we are publishing today show that in spite of very high costs to consumers, the 2010 target has been missed by a large margin, and that consequently the EU 2020 target is plainly beyond reach. The counterproductive target-led renewable policy agenda to 2020 has now reached the end of the road, and should be replaced with a more feasible and reasoned strategy.”

Energy Matters, 14 April 2011