Renew On Line (UK) 55
Extracts from NATTA's journal
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7. Renewable Energy Bill
Earlier this year, Lord Redesdale tabled a Private Member’s Bill designed to remove difficulties faced by those wishing to become involved in the renewable energy sector. It includes a strong emphasis on microgeneration.
Addressing the Bill Lord Redesdale noted that in its paper on System Integration of Additional Micro-Generation, the Distributed Generation Co-ordinating Group, which was set up and is jointly chaired by Ofgem and the DTI, suggested that there were significant benefits of a high microgeneration scenario by 2020: ‘it estimates a possible net benefit of £35m per annum. Environmentally, there would be significant gains as a result of reduced loss through distribution and the fact that most microgenerators are high efficiency or utilise renewable, low carbon energy sources. For example, a small domestic wind turbine of, say, 6.5 kW could save 4.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.’
He welcomed the inclusion of the microgeneration clause in the Energy Act and the forthcoming publication of a strategy for the promotion of microgeneration in Great Britain. However he noted that ‘there is still over a year until publication of this strategy, and one suspects that further delays will be incurred before implementation’.
So in his Bill he tried to fill the gap, while seeking to ensure that it did not in any way pre-empt the governments strategy. Perhaps a little tongue in cheek, he said that he had also tried to resolve ‘an apparent oversight by the Government. Energy used for heating represents approximately a third of the UK’s demand. However, this fact is not reflected in the incentives being offered by government to renewable generators.’
Amongst other things, the bill seeks to deal with metering for domestic microgeneration- and payments for any excess power produced. The current situation is that electricity suppliers can purchase the excess electricity if they wish. Lord Redesdale commented ‘The results of this state of affairs are threefold; low levels of participation, confusion and the inhibition of competition. Of 12 electricity providers I contacted, only four were able to tell me that they had any reward mechanism whatever in place. Of the four that did offer any reward mechanism, two in their customer literature, contrary to Ofgem’s statement of the current situation, announce to their customers that they could not really legally “buy” electricity produced by microgeneration.’
He claimed that ‘By failing to stipulate that the providers must have a mechanism in place through which they can reward microgenerators for the electricity they receive from them, Ofgem is failing to either promote competition between large and small-scale generators of electricity or advance the interests of those consumers who own microgenerators. It would appear in fact in this case to be promoting the interests of the oligopoly of the large electricity suppliers through regulation and preventing progressive consumers from competing.’
To resolve this situation, he proposed ‘an obligation for all suppliers to purchase electricity from microgenerators that they will be supplying electricity to for the periods during which their microgenerator is producing less power than they need’.
He also sought to address the planning problems faced by consumers seeking to install microgen units- by formally requiring local authorities to set their own targets- at present it’s a voluntary process. ‘The purpose is simply to ensure that local authorities consider microgeneration and its implementation in their communities. That, in turn, will assist the diffusion of knowledge about those valuable technologies.’ In addition, the Bill would render certain specific types of microgenerator as ‘permitted developments’, ‘putting them into the same category as swimming pools and satellite dishes for which, in most cases, it is unnecessary to apply for planning permission’. However safeguards are also proposed against what some may consider inappropriate developments.
Finally, and maybe most provocatively, he proposes the setting up of a parallel scheme to the Renewables Obligation, dealing with heat energy, an idea which (see right) was also the topic of another Bill.
* We wish the Bill well. After all, if 10 million consumers installed 2kW microgen PV or wind systems, then that would be 20GW- and, despite the lower load factors, it could supply as much power as the UK nuclear programme.
Green Heat Bill
In parallel with Lord Redesdales Bill (see left), Mike Weir, MP for Angus, introduced a Private Members Bill, backed by a coalition including Friends of the Earth, and designed to boost the use of renewable sources for generating heat. Sadly however it did not get parliamentary time to go for a second reading, although there are signs that the government may be willing to adopt some of its ideas. The Bill sought to increase the use of energy crops and harness solar power and ground heat- it would require a proportion of heating fuel sold in the UK to be sourced from renewable resources. Mike Weir said: ‘This Bill is a great opportunity to help farmers and other businesses and would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It would help in the fight against climate change and give a boost to this underexploited source of renewable energy.’
FoE Climate Campaigner Katie Elliott, said: ‘Despite a third of the UK’s energy being used for heat, the Government’s energy policy has overlooked the potential savings in carbon dioxide emissions from the heat sector. This Bill will help to boost the renewable heat market and so reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.’
As FoE pointed out, at present the emphasis in the renewables field is on electricity- very little renewable heat is currently generated in the UK. Farmers have been reluctant to grow crops for fuel, as markets have been so uncertain, and businesses have shown little interest in investing in technology which generates heat locally or which uses waste heat. This proposed law would change this, by providing the same type of incentive for renewable heat generation as the Government has already provided for renewable electricity- e.g. via the Renewables Obligation. A ‘Renewable Heat Obligation’ would ensure there was a better market for fuel crops such as straw and willow, and encourage investment- by providing an incentive for schools, hospitals, hotels, farmers or timber yards install their own small scale units such as wood burners, ground heat pumps or straw fired heating. The Bill would allow energy suppliers to either invest in their own supplies of renewable heat energy or buy in ‘credits’ from companies which specialise in the technology. As well as FoE, the Bill was supported the National Farmers Union and the Woodland Trust. As reported on p.3, the RPA has been saying similar things about a need for a heat obligation. Maybe even given that the bill failed to get a second reading, it might still happen!
New UK Sustainability plan…
In March, the Government launched a new Sustainable Development strategy, promising to ‘green’ a range of state/public procurement activities, a new approach to sustainable consumption and a new Community Action programme ‘Together We Can’. More in Renew 156 .
… but EU says no to UK fudge
The EU has refused to accept the UKs request to raise the level of emissions from that originally submitted in its National Allocation Plan for the EU Emission Trading System. The UK had asked to revise it initial Plan commitment by around 3% due to a reassessment of energy trends, and, it is claimed, after pressure from industries likely to be effected.
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