Renew On Line (UK) 66

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 166 March-April 2007
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Energy Policy: White paper delay, EAC blown away

2.Wind power : Micro-wind doubts, Offshore wind boom

3. Carbon Policy: Zero Carbon Houses, Carbon rationing

4. NCC: Green power reality check

5. Regional policy: Wales and Scotland

6. FoE say no to Severn Barrage: it could crowd out alternatives

7. News Roundup: Biofuels, Planning, Solar Fine, Clean Coal plant

8. Global Climate Worsens: IPCCC 4th report

9. European Roundup: EC on Energy Efficiency

10. USA: Bush unmoved on Climate

11. Around the world: Australia, China, Asia-Pacific Climate Pact

12. Nuclear News: UK, US, Germany and Bulgaria

Regional policy

Welsh raid seen off

The Government has responded to the quite critical report on ' Energy in Wales' produced by the Welsh Affairs Committee, with some clever twists. The Welsh Affairs Committee had complained that the Renewables Obligation skewed support in favour of wind: Wales perhaps had more than its fair share of wind projects, but the DTI statistics did not make this clear. The government replied that the RO was being revised and that Energy Trends (December 2005 pages 42 to 46) clearly showed that ' overall 3.0% of the electricity generated in Wales was from renewable sources compared with 3.6% in the UK as a whole' . However it accepted that ' Wind farms in Wales accounted for 52% of the generation from renewable sources in Wales whereas in the UK as a whole the proportion was 14%' . But it challenged the Committees claim that the combination of Section 36 of the Electricity Act and the Welsh Assembly Government' s TAN 8 planning advice note left little scope for local representation in decision making in respect of major wind farms in Wales: ' Both have been designed to positively encourage local participation' . The government pointed out that for projects over 50MW, which were considered centrally, in addition to stakeholder consultation, if a relevant local planning authority objects to an onshore proposal, ' a public inquiry is automatically triggered which will consider the issues put forward by the council and any other parties that have objected' , and projects of less than 50MW were the responsibility of local planning authorities. So ' unless issues of more than local importance are raised, or there is an appeal, decisions will continue to be made at the local level' .

Following up from its concern that wind was being over emphasised, the Welsh Affairs Committee had complained that Wave and Tidal Energy was not being given enough attention and in particular it urged the Government ' to expand the scope of its Marine Renewables Deployment Fund to include tidal lagoon technology' .

The government replied that the aim of the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund (MRDF) was to ' assist emerging wave and tidal stream technologies, which have the potential for significant cost reduction, to bridge the gap between research and development and commercialisation. We therefore see no case for amending the scope of the support provided under the MRDF so as to include mature technologies such as tidal lagoons. We also understand that the company that promotes this type of technology claims it to be commercially viable within the Renewables Obligation.' Cleverly done!

Doubly clever given that, as we report in our Technology section, after some prodding, the DTI/WDA has published a consultants report arguing that actually it would cost a lot more than the developers believed. Damned if it' s cheap, damned if it' s expensive! To rub it in, responding to the Committees comment that ' We are pleased that the DTI has now withdrawn its technical objections to the scheme, but the errors made by the DTI officials have undermined and delayed a highly promising project' , the government pointed to independent assessment for the DTI/WNA and claimed that there ' there are no constraints on the project coming forward and the DTI has indicated to the company that they are free to make an application for consent under Section 36 of the Electricity Act. The project is eligible for support under the Renewables Obligation.'

On wave and tidal power generally, the Welsh Affairs Committee had said that they were ' concerned about the seeming disparity between the time for marine technologies to be commercially viable according to the investors, and the Government' s own perception' . The government responded that ' since the reopening of the Government' s wave energy research and development programme in 1999 and tidal stream energy programme in 2000, a number of wave and tidal stream technologies have been developed and tested at full scale. However, despite early progress there still remains very limited real-sea operating experience of any full scale device at the present time and so results that have been obtained under these programmes to date suggest that the long-term commercial prospects for these technologies remain highly uncertain. The results of the DTI Research & Development Programmes and those of the Carbon Trust' s Marine Energy Challenge provide in our eyes a realistic assessment of the current technical status of these technologies.' However, the government said that it remained ' committed to providing these technologies with the opportunity to realise their potential and already have in place the most comprehensive set of measures to assist the development of marine technologies anywhere in the world' .

Finally there was the Severn Barrage. The Welsh Affairs Committee acknowledged the concerns with regard to the environmental impact, but said that ' we are in the unique position of being able to harness the second largest tidal range in the world in order to provide the long term supply of clean renewable energy and we recommend that the scheme be considered very seriously' . The government noted that ' During the course of the Energy Review consultation the Government received a range of views on tidal generation, in particular on the plans for a Severn Barrage, which could provide around 5% of current UK electricity demand by 2020. This could cost in the region of £14 billion. It is clear that while attractive in terms of energy generation and associated benefits, plans for a Severn Barrage would, as the Committee say, raise strong environmental concerns in view of the designations that apply to the Severn Estuary. We are however interested in improving our understanding of how to make best use of the potential tidal resource in UK waters. We therefore announced in the Energy Review Report that together with the Welsh Assembly Government, we would work with the Sustainable Development Commission, the South West Regional Development Agency and other key interested parties to explore the issues arising on the tidal resource in the UK. The study will explore the potential costs, benefits and public acceptability of developments using the range of tidal technologies (including tidal barrages and lagoons), with a strong focus on the Severn.' The study is expected to report in early 2007: See

* The Welsh Affairs Committee had also raised concerns about clean coal & biomass co-firing, as well as nuclear power- what would happen when Wylfa closed? All were dealt with in short order- we are doing lots on clean coal, the RO may be adjusted to allow more co-firing, and its up to the private sector to come up with plans for any new nuclear plants.

The governments full response is at: pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmwelaf/1656/1656.pdf

Scotland wants its seabed

Ownership of the seabed around Scotland should be given to the Scottish Parliament from its current owners, the Crown Estate Commission, to help marine green power projects, says Scottish minister Tavish Scott. The change of ownership would make it easier for Shetland to obtain an interconnector cable to export wind electricity to the UK mainland, and Scott wants the UK government in Westminster to consider including measures in the proposed UK Marine Bill, as suggested by the Crown Estate Review Working Group. UK control over the seabed has hampered Scotland' s efforts to develop marine energy, and giving control to Edinburgh would help. Source: ReFocus Weekly

In addition, Richard Lochhead of the Scottish National Party has been complaining that more than £38m is being held by UK energy regulator, Ofgem, from the old Scottish fossil fuel levy, which he wants released and spent on renewable energy projects in Scotland.

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