The UK will miss a major legally-binding renewable target, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has admitted in a leaked letter.
In a candid private message to other cabinet ministers, she reveals the country is predicted to fall short of its EU obligations of generating 15% of its energy from green sources by 2020.
The letter, which was obtained by the Ecologist magazine, says there will be a “shortfall against the target in 2020 of around 50TWh (with a range of 32-67TWh) or 3.5% points (with a range of 2.1-4.5% points) in our internal central forecasts (which are not public)”,
However it adds: “Publicly we are clear that the UK continues to make progress to meet the target.”
If the UK does miss its target, it could be liable to fines from the European Court of Justice.
The letter also states some other major Member States “are in a similar position to the UK”.
A DECC spokesperson said: “We do not comment on leaked documents.
“As the Secretary of State has set out clearly in the House, renewables made up almost 20% of our electricity generation in 2014 and there is a strong pipeline to deliver our ambition of reaching 30% by 2020. We continue to make progress to meet our overall renewable energy target.”
The letter was sent to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Oliver Letwin from the Cabinet Office, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
Environmental group Greenpeace said the letter “shows us the dark side of the government’s incoherent energy policy in full technicolour”.
Head of Energy Daisy Sands added: “For the first time, we learn that the government is expecting to miss the EU’s legally binding renewables target. This is hugely shocking. But more deplorably, it is wilfully hiding this from public scrutiny.
“The government is planning on cutting support for the solar and wind subsidies in the name of affordability. But perversely, we see that the government believes investing in renewable energy projects involving buying power from abroad is more desirable than supporting home grown renewable energy industries. Even more worryingly, it seems the government is seeking to haggle with the EU to revise down our legal commitments.”
A survey released by DECC today revealed support for renewables is still high in the UK.