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Solar energy: How realistic are ‘mandatory renewable energy targets’?

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Solar energy: How realistic are ‘mandatory renewable energy targets’?

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Environment

Solar energy: How realistic are mandatory renewable energy targets? Solar energy: How realistic are mandatory renewable energy targets?

Image: Solar panels via Shutterstock

By Chloe Hashemi, Fountain Partnership

It is irrefutable that Germany is the world’s leading advocate for solar powered energy. However, countries such as Australia are rapidly embracing the technology.

With the Australian government’s firmly enforced ‘Renewable Energy Target (RET)’, a 13-year period has resulted in 1.2 million homes having solar panels installed on their roofs.

What is more, progress in research has led to the eventuality of a reverse in Australia's reliance on fossil fuels, if the technology can be sustained.

The ultimate goal of this scheme is to ensure that 20% of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. The solar power magnitude is said to develop even further. In the next decade, Australia and Asia’s rooftop solar panels usage is predicted to rise six times in quantity.

Like the aforementioned scheme, most other mandatory renewable energy targets aim to succeed by the year 2020. These legally binding targets (of 67 countries worldwide), include large scale and small scale schemes which strive to reach the national objective gradually, while targeting an abundance of small and large regions and by implementing first, second and third generation technology.

In 2009, the European Commission established a renewable energy policy which imposed all member states of the European Union to abide to the ’20-20-20’ targets, which represent three main objectives, including a 20% decrease in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20% and a 20% improvement in the EU's energy efficiency; all by 2020.

The UK is also attempting to adopt this ’20-20-20’ policy on a national and local level, even though by the end of 2010, we had one of the lowest shares in renewable energy, along with Malta and Luxembourg. The UK has progressed significantly in the past 4 years, but why does the UK measure up so short compared to the rest of Europe? The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has stated that: “As the micro generation sector develops, the Government is providing financial incentives to support the growth of local small-scale renewable energy generation. In time, this support will be reduced as the sector achieves critical mass and innovation drives down costs.” However, even with these financial incentives in place, the costs do not cover half of the installation costs for home micro generation systems.

The Green Deal is a government backed initiative which helps people understand the energy saving improvements they can make on their home, which is beneficial for a broader understanding of the situation on a local level. The Green Deal finance loan aims to cover a percentage of the installation costs of micro generation systems at home but is not effective because costs still remain affordable for the average Brit’s budget.

Although, times are changing. On a more local scale, to steadily get greater results, solar panels have become much easier to maintain in the UK. Especially with affordable tools like electrical test equipment, mean you can now maintain your micro generation energy system at home with minimal further assistance. Communities across the country are also attempting to adopt more sustainable schemes of energy production, such as The Lancaster Cohousing Project based in Forgebank.

From the offset, it seems that a mandatory renewable energy target is a beneficial approach for UK to adopt in numerous ways, economically and financially. In 2013, British Gas increased gas prices by 8.4% and electricity prices by 10.4%, which on average is a 9.2% rise. With the strain on the nation in terms of household bills, the prospect of renewable energy has become more appealing to everyone; not just environmentalists. Countries which have demonstrated the potential for astounding progress over a relatively short period of time are Sweden, Estonia and Bulgaria, which have already surpassed their 2020 goal 6 years ahead of schedule. This progress is due to a substantial growth in wind power.

Time will only tell if renewable energy systems in the local community are as straightforward as the promising outcome. The UK still has 6 years to pull something out of the bag, and at the rate technology is progressing, who knows what the future holds.

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