Page last updated at 01:50 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 02:50 UK

'Drastic' reforms on energy urged

Solar panel
The report recommends expanding household micro-generation grants

"Urgent and drastic" policy and system changes are needed if the UK is to meet EU targets on renewable energy, a House of Lords committee has said.

Producing 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 is "an enormous challenge", the EU committee stressed.

It said planning law must be reformed to allow ministers to overrule local opposition to projects like wind farms.

It also called for more consideration of other technologies, including hydro-electric power.

National Grid

The Lords warned that in the rush to meet their target, ministers should not focus too heavily on wind power at the expense of such technologies, which, they said, may ultimately deliver greater benefits.

Their committee's report said there must be significant investment in all renewables, as well as greater capacity in the National Grid to accept green energy.

And it called for more emphasis on energy efficiency at individual and national level.

Energy efficiency and energy saving must be the starting points for meeting the target
Lord Freeman
Lords EU Committee

In January, the EU as a whole committed itself to producing 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, with each member country being given its own individual target.

Lord Freeman, chairman of the committee, said: "The [UK's] 15% target is laudable, but is an enormous challenge for the UK, particularly given our current levels of renewable generation.

"Urgent and drastic action will need to be taken in terms of planning, the supply chain and the electricity grid."

Reduce demand

The committee called for a greatly expanded system of grants to encourage people to consider micro-energy generation at home.

And it said ministers should introduce aggressive demand-reduction policies to cut the UK's total energy use by 20% by the 2020 deadline.

Lord Freeman said: "Energy efficiency and energy saving must be the starting points for meeting the target and policies to encourage reductions in energy use will need to be introduced as part of a comprehensive package of measures aimed at meeting the target."

The report warned that meeting the renewables target would result in increased energy costs for consumers and action would need to be taken to protect the least well-off.

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