The proportion of UK electricity generated by renewables should be increased to 20 per cent in 2020. This is one of the recommendations of a review of long-term – to 2050 – strategic energy issues that has been carried out by the influential Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU), a government think-tank, on behalf of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Renewables currently account for about 2.8 per cent of UK electricity and the current target is to boost this to 10 per cent by 2010.

The PIU report says that the “immediate priorities of energy policy are likely to be most cost-effectively served by promoting energy efficiency and expanding the role of renewables.” But it also says that the “options of new investment in nuclear power and in clean coal (through carbon sequestration) need to be kept open, and practical measures taken to do this.” The PIU recommendations will now be subjected to a period of public consultation, including a discussion of the relative roles of nuclear and renewables, with a White Paper setting out government policy to be published in the autumn. “I hope that this report will launch a thorough debate”, said Tony Blair. The nuclear lobby has broadly welcomed the PIU stance on nuclear, which is essentially that its deployment is a commercial matter, but environmentalists believe the renewable ambitions are too modest and are concerned that the review did not take up the opportunity of “slamming the coffin lid on nuclear power once and for all.”