UK government urged to set target to increase renewable generation

The UK government should define targets for increasing onshore wind and tidal power capacity as part of plans to accelerate the country’s transition to cleaner technologies, a parliament committee said on Thursday.

Ministers should also clarify the impact that restrictions on the type of land available for ground-mounted solar assets could have on its target to achieve 70 GW solar capacity by 2035, the environmental audit committee (EAC) added in a report. Discussions had previously arisen in political circles about limiting the land available for solar farms in the countryside.

“The UK has enormous renewable energy potential and sectors such as offshore wind are booming,” said Philip Dunne, EAC chairman, in a statement. “But more must be done to harness the opportunities which onshore wind, tidal and solar technologies provide.”

The EAC called on the government to set a date to end new oil and gas licensing rounds. This, together with electrifying future oil and gas projects, would help boost net zero and low-carbon energy generation and cut sector emissions, the EAC found. Last year, the UK launched a new licensing round for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a gas supply crunch.

Net Zero Strategy

The UK’s latest licensing round could award more than 100 new licences to oil and gas companies operating in the region. In December, the government launched a consultation on national planning policy aimed at giving local authorities greater powers to decide on onshore wind developments, widely seen as a reversal of its de facto ban on onshore wind.

The government is set to unveil an updated net-zero strategy this spring. Current onshore wind capacity in the country stands at 15 GW, while solar capacity is around 14 GW, government data show.

Recent Trends

Over the past week wind has accounted for a significant proportion of electricity generation causing UK electricity prices to plummet.  The below graph summarises how wind has accounted for over 50% of the UK generation mix over the past week. Whilst there are still questions about storing electricity produced when supply out strips demand and when there are periods of low wind  increasing the UK’s wind generation capacity will reduce reliance on fossil fuels and increase long term control on UK energy prices. Data taken from National Grid: Live (

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