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Renewables could power this country four times over

Built in solar panels on a house roof in Ambleside, Lake District, UK, at sunset.
Ashley Cooper | Corbis Documentary | Getty Images
Built in solar panels on a house roof in Ambleside, Lake District, UK, at sunset.

Renewable energy could provide as much as four times the U.K.'s current energy consumption, according to a new report from The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The report, titled 'The RSPB's 2050 Energy Vision', states that the U.K. could produce up to 6,277 terawatt hours (TWh) annually using "renewable technologies", which would equate to around four times the U.K.'s total energy consumption for 2014.

The U.K. has ambitious plans for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The 2008 Climate Change Act has set the target of slashing emissions by 80 percent by 2050, compared to a 1990 baseline.

Within this context, the RSPB designed three scenarios which would reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

One is described as being "mixed" and includes a combination of clean sources such as solar, floating offshore wind, fixed offshore wind and onshore wind. The second scenario relies heavily on floating offshore wind, while the third is based on "high levels of onshore technologies" such as solar photovoltaic and onshore wind.

Importantly for the RSPB, all these scenarios could be achieved whilst mitigating the risks to wildlife by avoiding sensitive species and habitats.

"Climate change is one of the greatest long-term threats to wildlife," the RSPB's director of conservation, Martin Harper, said in a statement.

Doing nothing was not an option, Harper added, and a major roll out of renewable and low carbon energy sources was needed.

"If poorly planned, this can risk damaging valuable areas for wildlife," he said.

"This report is our latest contribution to the debate by showing how a low-carbon, high-renewable energy future can be achieved in the U.K. in harmony with nature – based on the currently available evidence."