Renew On Line (UK) 54

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 154 Mar-Apr2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. A new UK Climate Plan

2. Green Heat and Biofuels

3. Local support for Tidal power

4. Wind rush- and wind problems

5. Micro power push: PV and micro-CHP

6. Clean-coal ‘better than wind’

7. Industrial ups and downs

8. Grid Connection Charges

9. £80m for Innovation

10. Efficiency Drives

11. World news: Kyoto goes live

12. World Renewables Round up

13. Nuclear Power- more or less?

2. Green Heat and Biofuels

The Renewable Power Association has  worked with Friends of the Earth and others to develop a proposal for a ‘Renewable Heat Obligation.’ They say that although the UK government has recognized the contribution of Green Heat technologies in climate change programmes, it “has not introduced a dedicated policy to support this low cost and proven carbon abatement option.” They note that  space heating accounts for one-third of the UK’s energy demand, and add “Like electricity suppliers, coal, gas and oil suppliers should have an Obligation to supply an increasing proportion of their business from renewable energy sources.”  And they suggest that ‘Heat Obligation Certificates’ should be introduced at the ‘earliest possible opportunity’.  They  could be traded, as with Renewable Obligation Certificates, to provide a market incentive.  They say this approach is   even more relevant in the more established heat market than in power generation”.

The Green Heat obligation would require  heat suppliers to supply an increasing proportion of heat from non-fossil fuel sources, such as biomass, solar thermal and earth energy systems. Each supplier’s Obligation would be a percentage of its fossil fuel sales, and the Obligation would be met by Heat Obligation Certificates purchased from accredited Green Heat schemes.

The UK obtained 8,327 GWh of thermal energy from green sources in 2002, or 716,000 tonnes of oil equivalent, mainly in heat for homes and light industry. The majority was provided by wood and some solar thermal but the RPA say that “there is a huge potential for additional low cost carbon abatement to be achieved by stimulating and supporting the market for renewable heat”.

They claim that biomass fuel could fuel 8,000 MW of heating systems, and this could treble with the introduction of energy crops, while solar could provide 70% of a home’s annual  hot water needs, and half of the country’s building stock is suitable for solar thermal. They conclude “Every new energy development and investment in the UK that fails to make use of a renewable fuel for both power and heat, is a missed opportunity in terms of developing the UK’s low carbon economy.”

* The RPA also backed the idea of reducing emissions from transport by the introduction of a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, pointing out that “The Renewables Obligation applies only to the supply of electricity and yet two-thirds of our emissions of greenhouse gases come from non-electricity uses of fossil fuels. Proven and cost effective renewable energy technologies are available now to displace the use of fossil fuels in transport and for heat; however, there is no market-based instrument to incentivise their development.” 

This idea now looks like being explored- see below.

Biofuels - more studies

The Government may have backed off increasing tax on conventional transport fuels in last Decembers Pre-Budget report, but the government has at least opened the door a bit more to biofuels- if only for the longer term. A 20p-a-litre duty reduction for bioethanol came into effect in January last year, to match the advantage already given to biodiesel, and although  appeals for further cuts of up to 12p a litre were ignored, Chapter 7 of the Pre-Budget Report, on ‘Protecting the Environment’, did recognise that biofuels may “contribute to security of fuel supply” in the future. 

It also announced a consultation and a feasibility study (to commence “shortly”) on a possible Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), to require a fuel suppliers to put a minimum biofuel content into conventional fuels, so that specified proportions of aggregate fuel sales come from renewable sources, drawing upon the experience of the RO for electricity. There have been calls for this new Obligation to be set at 2% initially and then increased in stages. To help suppliers develop the necessary capacity, there will also be a pilot project (launched in 2005, to commence 2006) to examine the potential for using duty incentives for inputs-based production.  This seems to be a result of lobbying by oil interests- certainly it offers a way for major refineries to incorporate bio-based feedstocks, thereby keeping a grip on a portion of biofuels production. Enhanced capital allowances for biofuel production plants were launched as a stakeholder discussion document in October- more details expected in the March 2005 Budget.

* It was also indicated that one of the UK’s key priorities for the Presidency of the EU in 2005 is to get aviation emissions included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2008.

Biomass blockage  

A Poultry waste fired power station in Norfolk, which was to use pyrolysis and gasification technology, has been rejected by local councillors. Chicken processing firm Banham Poultry wanted to develop a green power plant on the site of its former factory at Bunn’s Bank, Attleborough. It would be the first of its kind to use the latest technology to convert feathers, heads, guts and other poultry waste into renewable electricity. But members of Norfolk County Council’s planning (regulatory) committee refused planning permission for the scheme because of concerns about its effect on the local area, with odour being a key issue.

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