Brexit Won’t Impact UK Green Energy Goals, There’s Already No Chance Of Meeting Them

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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There’s no scenario where Great Britain could get 15 percent of its electricity from green energy by 2020, even if the country had voted to remain in the European Union, according to research published Tuesday by the U.K. government’s National Grid.

None of the four scenarios considered by the National Grid, including a hypothetical situation where Britain voted to remain in the European Union, would allow the country to meet global warming goals by the government’s deadline of 2020. The research concluded that the best scenario of using nuclear, green energy and technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from conventional energy sources would take until 2022 to meet the goal.

Initial reports from the wind industry said that Brexit places the government subsidies and easy access to financing at risk. Even though the industry is deeply dependent on these subsidies to make projects more economically viable, their continuation wouldn’t result in Britain meeting its green energy goals.

The study found that even in the best scenarios for wind and solar power, 70 percent of British homes would still use gas for their heating requirements by 2030.

Despite this lack of progress, Britain’s attempts to use wind or solar power have been immensely costly. U.K. residents paid a whopping 54 percent more for electricity than Americans in 2014, while energy taxes cost residents roughly $6.6 billion every year. Green energy subsidies in the U.K. regularly exceed spending caps and account for roughly 7 percent of British energy bills, according to the U.K.’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets.

Polling indicates that 38 percent of British households are cutting back essential purchases, like food, to pay for high energy bills. Another 59 percent of homes are worried about how they are going to pay energy bills. Companies are getting hit by pricey British electricity as well, and some are even leaving the country because of it, threatening up to 40,000 jobs.

The U.K. will be more vulnerable to blackouts than it has ever been for at least the next four years, Paul Massara, the former CEO of one of Britain’s largest electricity companies, told The Times in March. Britain’s dependence on wind and solar power could lead to massive blackouts this winter, which have already impacted the U.K.. To comply with European Union mandates, Britain planned to to shut down 1.5 gigawatts of conventional electrical capacity and replace it with unreliable wind or solar power.

Britain’s government was already been forced to take emergency measures to keep the lights on and official government analysis suggests the country could have insufficient electricity on a windless or cloudy days to meet demand. The resulting brownouts and blackouts have already impacted the U.K.

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