Renew On Line (UK) number 71
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 171 Jan/Feb 2008
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
1. New year- new policies?
Gordon Browns intervention on renewables (see below), and his hint that he might consider an 80% carbon cut target for 2050, followed by the announcement that the government wanted offshore wind to expand to 33GW total by 2020, gave us some hope for the future.
The Tories meanwhile seemed to go one further- pushing the idea of Feed-In Tariffs, but (see Section 2 below) with competitive tendering at least for mainstream supplies, so missing the whole point. Their ‘Quality of Life’ Report says that onshore wind subsidies should be abolished, allegedly because windfarm developers were making large profits. Although this was then watered down at the Party Conference, to just ‘cutting down’ onshore wind subsidies to pay for other renewables, Dr David Toke from the University of Birmingham says that ‘in effect they want to restrict windfarms to a few windy hillsides, half of which would probably be called in and forgotten about at the planning stage by a Tory led planning regime’.
In addition to this and its other green energy plans, including support for domestic micro-power (see section 2 below), the Tories also want to replace the climate change levy (CCL) with a carbon levy, and to allow nuclear to get support from it (electricity from nuclear plants was not eligible for exemption from the CCL). And this despite Cameron's claim that he sees nuclear as the ‘last resort’.
This specific CCL policy is one Labour may not steal- they may open it to nuclear, but don’t want to ditch it. Or the Renewables Obligation. That, and Labours major commitment to market competition, was clear from the speech by John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, at the Fabian Society last Sept. ‘Competitive energy markets, driving the production of low carbon technologies, will both enable us protect our environment and help our economy to grow and prosper.’
Lest there be any doubt, he went on ‘For those that say markets are the problem, my response is simple. Properly structured, well regulated markets will be the very foundation of our long term answer to the climate change challenge. But as in other parts of our economy, well functioning markets don’t happen by accident. They require Government and regulatory intervention to build and sustain them. And in the EU ETS Governments have led the way in constructing such a market for reducing global carbon emissions by the most cost-effective means. It has the potential to become the basis of a global carbon market.’
Quite a stretch given the disaster it has been so far- see Groups/Features in Renew 171 for Open Europe’s views.
Backing up his call for ‘strong financial incentives towards the production of low carbon technologies’, Hutton said ‘the Government is committed to the Renewables Obligation’ and claimed that ‘it has been a success so far, and industry confidence in the system has grown. Its effectiveness will increase further as under our White Paper proposals to reform it and as we reform the planning and grid access regimes’.
Again quite a stretch, given the very poor performance of the RO compared with the Feed-In Tariff approach used in most of the EU. However there were some new initiatives in the pipeline ‘We shall shortly be launching the new Energy Technologies Institute, with a minimum budget of around £600m over the next decade for R&D into low carbon energy, drawing on private as well as public funding. The ETI and the Environmental Transformation Fund, to be established next year, will bring a new level of coherence to our energy innovation strategy.’
It could certainly do with it- see Section 3 for more on the ETF.
Brown: 'More Renewables’
‘I would like to see the development of renewable sources of energy, I would like to see the development of wind and wave power, we are supporting it financially with all the new technologies that make it possible. Obviously we are sensitive to the local areas where people have their own issues that have to be dealt with by planning inquiries, but I think wind power is one of the sources for the future that we should be developing’ Gordon Brown: 4/9/7
He followed this up in a major ‘green’ speech at a WWF conference in Nov., He said that the government was ‘completely committed to meeting our share’ of the EU target of getting 20% of energy from renewables by 2020 (but see Section 3 below), which meant that ‘over the next decade and beyond Britain will need to raise very significantly the proportion of our energy from renewable sources’, which he said ‘will be a huge challenge’. To meet it ‘we already plan to increase the capacity of offshore windfarms from less than half a gigawatt now to 8GW’, and the government also wanted to support ‘further significant expansion’- a 25GW expansion was announced later.
He added ‘we will also explore the potential for major new investment in energy from wave and tidal sources. We have already announced a study of the feasibility of generating tidal energy from the River Severn: this alone could provide 5% of Britain’s electricity needs.’ And he announced that ‘we will be including tidal lagoons and barrages below one gigawatt capacity within the scope of the Renewables Obligation- potentially benefiting projects such as those being proposed for Rhyl and Swansea Bay’.
Moreover ‘the first programmes of the £1bn public-private Energy Technologies Institute will be focused on R&D in offshore wind, wave and tidal stream energy. And the new £370m domestic Environmental Transformation Fund will help bring these technologies to market.’ Good news for once- although we will have to wait until ‘Spring 2009’ for a full renewables strategy...
There was also still no word on the nuclear decision- Brown said that, with the consultation over, it would emerge ‘in the New year’. However there is still no shortage of contention- the consultation exercise was widely seen as compromised. A group of leading British academics have put their names to a report complaining the process was biased in favour of new nuclear plants with slanted information and key facts missing or deeply buried. ‘There is deep disquiet about the form and function of the consultations’, said report author Dr Paul Dorfman of Warwick University. ‘We are being asked to buy a pig in a poke- to make a decision on the validity of new nuclear build when questions on key issues of waste, siting, reactor design and safety have not been resolved.’
* Greenpeace have made a detailed formal complaint to the Market Research Standards Council about biases they alleged were introduced by the Market Research company contracted to run the consultation. e.g. Greenpeace say that, in their questions & presentations, positive messages for nuclear were made as statements of fact, while negative issues were qualified. Certainly some of the info provided on alternatives was pretty dismissive in tone. Thus on solar, participants in the consultation were told: ‘In sunny countries, solar power can be used where there is no easy way to get electricity to a remote place’, and that it was ‘handy for low-power uses such as solar powered garden lights and battery chargers’. True, but the EU now has 4GWof mostly grid PV! http://nuclearpower2007.direct.gov.uk/docs/Events_070908_ReferenceSheets.pdf
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