Renew On Line (UK) 53

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 153 Jan-Feb2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1.     Wave and Tidal move ahead

New Marine Renewables Centre

2.     Biomass Boost

£3.5m more

3. Wind power developments

Largest wind farm yet...      

4. Micro power shows off:

Micro wind boom

5. Funding programmes

£15.5m for Community Energy

£8.5m for Local  renewables

6. Policy Developments

Climate  Review

Emission Trading Review

Party Positions

7. Policy Issues and lobbying

‘Double the Climate Change Levy’

RO costs more than REFIT


8. Around the World

Australia, New Zealand, India ,Canary Isles, EU, US

9. Global Developments

IEA Research on renewables falls…

..but Solar hits 100 million

‘No’ to Large Hydro...

Climate Change 'a real threat'

10. Nuclear News

Ten new nukes? Not yet !

6. Policy Developments

New patterns of energy use needed

 Climate Change? All Change!

The government is  reviewing its climate change policy and  has  launched a 12 week consultation programme, which closes on March 2nd. Its remit includes the EUETS, efficiency, biomass, biofuels and transport.  One of the drivers for it is the governments   admission that, on present policies  although the Koto target of a 12.5% cut in greenhouse emissions by 2008-20102 should be met, UK's voluntary national target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2010 may not  be reached. So the  climate policy review should be a key event- looking for new options. Full details and analysis is Renew 154. Meanwhile see:

The Government has already  been pushing energy and resource saving - following a new UK CHIP report warns that climate change could have significant impacts on the UK by 2050.  They clearly see behavioural changes as a key element. In a speech to the Environment Agency’s annual meeting in Birmingham last Oct, Margaret Beckett said “I believe that sustainable development depends on long-term changes in the behaviour of individuals, companies, communities and the public sector in relation to energy use, travel, consumption and production, waste, and health’. 

She added  ‘Some of these changes are happening already. The best businesses recognise that they can maximise their long-term returns to shareholders by minimising their negative environment impacts; that through responsible action they can become more competitive, not less. Individuals buy fair trade goods, organic products and invest their savings sustainably.’  But she felt that  ‘spontaneous’ initiatives like this were ‘just the tip of the long-term behaviour changes we envisage. I firmly believe that these are measures that business should be taking anyway. Saving billions of pounds makes business sense. But I also believe there is a role for Government is helping to catalyse these behaviour changes.’  For example, she noted that ‘up to £20m a year by 2007/08 will be used to fund a Technology Strategy aimed at waste minimisation and energy efficiency, and at least £40m by 2007/08 will be used to expand the Carbon Trust’s energy efficiency programmes. We will also be looking at introducing a new enhanced capital allowance scheme to target waste and resource efficiency technologies.’  

She concluded  “It is not just in businesses that we are aiming to catalyse these changes. Environmental impacts from business are themselves driven by the purchases and choices we make in our everyday lives. Each of us can do some simple things, such as cutting energy use with the help and advice of the Energy Saving Trust. We can be more demanding in our shopping- I challenge supermarkets to raise their game by only selling products that minimise environmental damage in their production and use.”   

Finally she noted “This is not a hairshirt agenda. But how to reduce these impacts requires radical thinking. I am looking to the Sustainable Consumption Round Table, which we are funding jointly through the National Consumer Council and the Sustainable Development Commission, to help us find the answers.”

However, as far as industry’s response goes, things on the ground are mixed. According to Datamonitor only 15% of industrial & commercial companies in the UK have set targets for procuring green power. But British Telecom has signed the world’s largest purchase of electricity from renewable energy, for 2.1 TWh to cover almost all of BT’s demand in Britain over three years. And Co-operative Financial Services are installing nearly 400kW of PV solar on their tower block in Manchester.

Emission Trading Review

With the Climate review in mind the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee has been carrying out an inquiry on the challenges posed by Climate Change and the need to begin negotiating an international framework to succeed the first phase of the Kyoto accord and bring about more radical cuts in carbon emissions for the second Kyoto commitment period- after 2012. Its overall aim is to assess the feasibility of emissions trading systems (ETS) as a framework for negotiating a post 2012 agreement- looking at whether such systems can be enforced, and at alternatives to an international ETS- including presumably the Contraction and Convergence idea, although that could also be seen as a form of ETS. It will also look at the idea of  including aviation in the EUETS.

*The UK certainly needs to compensate for the weakened emissions reduction targets that were submitted to the EU in our updated ETS National Allocation Plan- cut by nearly 3% after industry lobbying.

Party Positions

With the general election coming up, the political parties have been trying to attract the so-called ‘green vote’. Last Sept. Labour and the Conservatives launched major ‘green’ policy statements, both of them stressing the urgency of dealing with Climate Change. The Tories argued that Labour had not done enough and claimed that they could be better, by harnessing the power of the market.  A bit odd that, since, for good or ill, Labour (and the Lib Dems) already seem to have adopted that approach. The Tories also tried to out do Labour in their commitment to what Tory leader Michael Howard called ‘the almost infinite reserves of renewable energy’. But, having already come out against Labours handling of the wind farm programme (see Renew 152), in his speech at a Green Alliance meeting he put his own spin on it. ‘The Government is betting the farm on onshore wind, focused as it is on its short term 2010 renewable energy target. In doing so, I believe that they have made two mistakes that undermine the long term potential for renewable energy. First, by changing the planning guidance, they have put the renewables sector as a whole on a collision course with local opinion. They have shifted power away from local communities and put it in the hands of developers and politicians. We oppose the new guidelines. We are not against on-shore wind but we believe that communities must be won over, not walked over. That is in the long term interest of renewable energy.’

He went on ‘The Government’s second great mistake is its neglect of offshore wind, biomass and the emerging technologies of solar, wave and tidal power. These are now emerging as potentially viable sources of renewable energy. I was delighted, for example, to hear of the first wave machine to supply electricity to the national grid, operating off the Orkney coast. These technologies offer significant commercial potential but Britain is missing out. Even with offshore wind and wave power, where we have enormous natural and technical advantages, we are losing ground to the Danes and the Portuguese.  We should not allow these promising technologies to be victims of a classic poverty trap- what the environmentalists frequently call “the valley of death”- the gap between grant aid and the ongoing support provided through the Renewables Obligation. We support the principle of the Renewables Obligation but are consulting on ways to reform it so that it bridges the so-called valley of death and provides access to the necessary start-up funds.’

He concluded ‘I am convinced that, with the right incentives and with the right long term vision, the twenty first century will be the age of renewable and recoverable energy, just as the nineteenth century was the age of the steam engine and the twentieth the age of the internal combustion and jet engines. Man’s ingenuity is almost limitless, and clean energy will dominate the planet and secure our future well before the end of the century we live in today.’

Howard also made strong commitments to Combined Heat and Power and to energy efficiency, outlining his view that much could be done at the domestic level, and proposing cash concessions (e.g. reduced stamp duty) for energy efficient homes.  However, he would not commit his party to building nuclear power stations. Asked, after his speech, if the government should expand Britains nuclear plants, he said that nuclear power was expensive and there were questions on how we deal with the waste. He argued that there should be a comprehensive assessment of Britains energy needs, possible alternative sources of supply and whether nuclear power was needed.

Tony Blair, in a speech on the same day, hammered home the warnings about climate change (backed up by a new report from DEFRA) and noted that the government was about to review its policy in this field- to strengthen its impact. He said that ‘We need both to invest on a large scale in existing technologies and to stimulate innovation into new low carbon technologies for deployment in the longer term.  There is huge scope for improving energy efficiency and promoting the uptake of existing low carbon technologies like PV, fuel cells and carbon sequestration.’ But he also indicted that nuclear power was still on the agenda, longer term.    

Party Pieces

At their annual conference in  Sept., the Liberal Democrats put Emission Trading high on their agenda during the debate on ‘using markets to help the environment’.

 At Labours  Party Conference,  Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt linked renewables  to both climate change and industrial development policy, and, in effect, set a new interim target for renewables by insisting that: ‘in the next five years we must produce enough renewable energy to power every home in 10 major cities’.

Tim Yeo told the Consevatives   ‘I’ll change the rules on renewable energy so the incentives don’t just help on-shore wind farms. Instead, I’ll encourage new technologies like biomass, off-shore wind, tidal and wave power as well- areas where Britain has natural advantages and should lead the world.’

·     SERA, Labours green lobby group, in its manifesto ‘Environmental Prorgress and Social Justice’ backed Emission Trading and also called for 20% of UK energy to come from renewables by 2020.

NATTA/Renew Subscription Details

Renew is the bi-monthly 30 plus page newsletter of NATTA, the Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment. NATTA members gets Renew free. NATTA membership cost £18 pa (waged) £12pa (unwaged), £6 pa airmail supplement.

Details from NATTA , c/o EERU,
The Open University,
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Tel: 01908 65 4638 (24 hrs)

The full 32 (plus) page journal can be obtained on subscription
The extracts here only represent about 25% of it.

This material can be freely used as long as it is not for commercial purposes and full credit is given to its source.

The views expressed should not be taken to necessarily reflect the views of all NATTA members, EERU or the Open University.