Renewable Energy Foundation

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Renewable Electricity Subsidies Still Likely to Break Treasury Budget Limits

In the policy reset speech of 18 November 2015, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the Rt Hon Amber Rudd, MP, made it clear that she intends to protect the consumer against excessive subsidy costs, which are in principle limited by the Treasury’s Levy Control Framework (LCF) to £7.6bn per year in 2020 [1].

The scale of the difficulties that government faces in achieving this goal is made clear in a new website page published today by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a UK charity that has been critical of overly expensive and ineffective renewable energy policies.

The REF web page [2] is based on information derived from the government’s own Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD), the latest version of which was published on the 14th of December. REF’s calculations estimate the generation from the consented capacities of the various technologies, and thus measures progress towards the electricity component of the 2020 renewables targets specified by the European Union’s Renewables Directive of 2009. 

This work confirms earlier analyses by REF predicting a major overshoot of the renewable electricity target, which implies a breach of the Treasury budget limits. If all the consented capacity is built, the target will be overshot by 35%, implying a budget overshoot of approximately £2bn per year.

In contrast to renewable electricity, progress on meeting the heat and transport parts of the overall energy target of 15% has been slow with growth of only 34% and 1% respectively over the five years to 2014. [4]

Dr John Constable, director of REF, said: “Overshooting the electricity part of the 2020 renewable energy target at consumers’ expense makes no sense, especially if it means diverting limited resources from the renewable heat and transport sub-targets.”

Dr Constable continued:

"Not all the consented capacity of renewable electricity can be afforded by the UK consumer. DECC needs to take very firm action to ensure that needless renewable electricity projects are killed off without delay, lifting planning blight on local populations and giving a clear signal to investors that government believes development effort should be refocused on the heat and transport sectors.”

Notes for Editors:

[1] The text of Amber Rudd’s speech is at


[3] UK’s 2020 renewable energy target is made up of three sub-targets: electricity, heat and transport. The relative proportions of each of these towards the total target and the suggested trajectory towards meeting the 2020 target was set in the National Renewable Energy Action Plan for the UK ( )

[4] Annual progress towards meeting the three sub-targets shows that renewables heating and cooling increased from 2,095 to 2,804 kToe (24.4 TWh to 32.6TWh) between 2010 and 2014– an increase of 34%. Transport biofuel usage increased from 1150 to 1167 kToe (13.4 to 13.6 TWh) between 2010 and 2014 – an increase of 1%. … see page 39, Table 6.7 at

[5] DECC’s Renewable Energy Planning Database


Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 December 2015