4. Energy Policy developments
EU Renewables Directive
UK gets off lightly
The legally binding target proposed by the EU for the UK as its contribution
to helping the EU as a whole to get 20% of its energy from renewables
by 2020, has been set at 15%. Most other countries didn’t get
off so lightly: Portugal’s target was 31%, Denmark’s 30%,
France got 23%, Spain 20%, Germany 18%, Greece 18%, Italy 17%, and Ireland
16%. The big hitters were Austria at 34%, Finland at 38%, Sweden 49%-
and Latvia at 42%. Some other ex-Soviet countries also had highish targets:
Slovenia 25%, Estonia 25%. Lithuania 23%, and Romania 24%.
Countries who can’t meet their targets can buy in green energy
credits from those with excess, under a new voluntary ‘guarantee
of origin’ system, and they can ‘burden share’ with
projects both in and outside of the EU Emission Trading System. They
can also top up with credits from outside the EU. These proposals will
now be debated- and finalised by early next year. There’s plenty
to discuss- e.g. REFIT seems safe, but what are the sanctions if the
targets aren’t met? More in Renew 173.
* DBERR’s John Hutton is chairing an enhanced Renewable Advisory
Board with a wider remit to advise the Government on how to meet the
UK’s target under this new EU Directive. 15% is still very challenging-
we are at about 2% at present.
Scotland splashes out
Scotland’s first SNP Budget & Spending Review included a commitment
to create a new Sustainable Development and Climate Change fund of over
£30m and to treble support for the Scottish Community & Householder
Renewables Initiative to £13.5m each year.
There is also to be an annual £2m prize to encourage innovation
in renewable generation, and a £10m Horizon Prize ‘to attract
the cream of the world’s scientists to put Scotland firmly on
the international map as a leading centre for renewable energy solutions’.
20% of Scottish electricity demand is now met by renewables and the
Spending Review set a target of getting to 31% by 2011. Ministers have
also set a target of getting 50% of electricity from renewables by 2020,
up from the previous aim of having 40% by 2020. But not all is full
ahead: maybe wisely they have decided against the giant Lewis wind farm..
The new Energy Bill, mentioned in the Queens Speech last Nov., and launched
in parallel with the Nuclear White Paper, tidies up various elements
of UK energy policy in line with the last years Energy White Paper.
Some of it sounds fine. It aims to ‘provide greater incentives
for renewable energy generation’ and to ‘strengthen the
Renewables Obligation to drive greater and more rapid deployment of
renewables in the UK’. That includes the proposed RO technology
banding arrangements. Maybe neutral are the proposals ‘to make
it easier for private firms to invest in offshore gas supply infrastructure’
and to ‘strengthen the market framework to help ensure secure
and affordable energy supplies and encourage a diverse, secure supply
of electricity’, assuming that is you like market mechanisms.
In addition it introduces ‘a regulatory framework to enable private
sector investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects’.
And finally there are measures ‘to ensure owners of new nuclear
power stations pay their share of decommissioning and waste costs’.
Planning Reform Bill
The new Planning Reform Bill proposes an Independent Infrastructure
Planning Commission to oversee major projects and speed up the planning
process. The draft of the Bill attracted plenty of objections to what
was seen as a dangerous centralisation, and in response, the new version
seems likely to stress the role of consultation. The government says
that the Bill ‘intends to produce more timely and predictable
decisions on infrastructure projects which are important for economic
growth, energy security, climate change and other key issues. More decisions
will be devolved to local authorities, and there will be a more efficient
appeals process.’ It addition ‘It will require developers
of major projects to consult affected people and communities before
submitting planning applications’
Reactions to that were still pretty negative. e.g., the Green Party
said that ‘The current proposals for a separate planning system
for major infrastructure projects mean undermining democracy in favour
of an increasingly centralised and authoritarian government’.
PRASEG told ‘no to Green Certificates, yes to REFIT’
One of the main architects of Germany’s renewables policy, Hans-Josef
Fell, recently met with UK MPs to shore up support for EU renewable
targets and the REFIT system and to resist the EC’s plans, evidently
backed by the UK government, for a shift to Mandatory Trading of green
energy certificates (see Renew 171). At a meeting in the Commons, Fell
told the all party Parliamentary Renewables and Sustainable Energy Group
that ‘The discussion in the EU Commission to promote renewables
in the EU with a certificate system called ‘mandatory trade’
could in fact hinder the growth of renewables, instead of increasing
them. The example of unsuccessful political framework in some countries
shows this clearly.’ And he added ‘instead of trying to
lobby for support from France and Poland for its latest EU proposals,
the UK could rule the waves again by unleashing its abundant tidal wave
and offshore wind energy potential’.
In the event, the EC came up with proposals for a voluntary system for
trading excess ‘Guarantees of Origin’ certificates, which
could be less harmful. The debate continues.
Meanwhile see: www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/businessre/story?id=50605
Action in the Cities
Bristol, Leeds and Manchester are developing action plans to cut their
CO2 emissions. Under a new Low Carbon Cities Programme, the Carbon Trust
& the Energy Saving Trust will work to develop individual city-wide
action plans to achieve low carbon economies which are both prosperous
& sustainable. New measures & initiatives will be introduced
and could include renewable energy and trigeneration (creating power,
heat and cooling from a single source) along with energy saving measures
such as insulation and promoting cycling to work. £250,000 from
Defra will also benefit the other members of the Core Cities Group,
Sheffield, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Nottingham, by producing
audits of emissions and identifying cost effective carbon saving options.
* Over 50 applications to be eco-towns- the first newtowns for nearly
half a century- have been received from across the country. DEFRA says
that all homes will be built to higher environmental standards, and
to zero carbon from 2016, with a million zero carbon homes in the decade
after. The Prime Minister announced a coalition of 170 organisations-
homebuilders, councils, planners and green groups- who have now signed
up to this goal. 78 extra Local Authorities, the majority of which are
in the three Northern regions, have also now applied to become new growth
points in response to the Housing Green Paper, with the potential to
deliver 450,000 extra homes.
Meanwhile Bristol has become one of the latest ‘Transition Towns’.
Asked on 29th Oct about supporting local campaigns to save electricity
as part of its strategy on tackling climate change, a DEFRA Minister
noted that: ‘The Government are working at a regional and community
level through the Climate Change Communications Initiative which has
provided £8.5m to 83 local projects to help raise awareness of
climate change, encourage positive attitudes and provide advice on action
to help tackle it. My department also funds the Energy Saving Trust.
The ESTs Community Partnerships programme works with and provides advice
& support to local bodies, to help them deliver energy efficiency
to their communities. The Community Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF), which
is funded by my department, aims to ensure 300,000 of the most vulnerable
pensioner and other vulnerable households are assisted using an area
based approach. In Sept. 2007, 50 projects totalling £6.3m were
offered funding by CEEF, including a range of new and established projects,
each bringing together key players at the local level to improve the
effectiveness of Warm Front and Energy Efficiency Commitment.’
Life cycle emissions from Biofuels
A parliamentary question in Oct last year on greenhouse gas emissions
from biofuels, elicited the response that ‘carbon savings can
vary widely, depending on how much fossil energy is used in cultivation,
harvesting, processing and transportation. For example, the Government-sponsored
Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership has calculated that the carbon savings
for UK wheat-based ethanol compared to petrol can vary from 7 % to 77%.
For this reason, the forthcoming renewable transport fuel obligation
(RTFO) will require companies to measure and report on how much carbon
their fuel has saved over the entire lifecycle from grain to tank. From
2010, when experience with carbon measurement and reporting has been
established, the Government have announced their intention that the
RTFO will reward fuels according to their carbon savings.’
DEFRA say that the proposals for environmental protection in the draft
Marine Planning Bill got widespread support, and there is certainly
support for more to be done. The Commons Science and Technology Select
Committee said funding for marine science and technology had fallen
in real terms in the last decade and insisted that the oceans must be
‘explored, monitored, studied and understood more thoroughly than
has been the case up to now’ because of their importance to climate,
biodiversity, renewable energy resources, food supply and other services.
The committee called for the creation of a new marine agency to co-ordinate
marine science and ocean monitoring. A new draft of the Bill is due.
It’s odd that the UK, as an Island nation, with a long maritime
history, and now a huge offshore engineering industry as well as a growing
offshore wind, wave and tidal industry, doesn’t have a Minister
responsible for offshore industry & environment.
Marine renewables 'slow', says RAB
The Renewables Advisory Board has produced a grim report on wave and
tidal current power- progress is slower than expected, with as yet no
projects able to avail themselves of grants from the governments £42m
fund for wave and tidal current projects. Evidently the funding scheme
is fine, it's the technologies that aren't yet up to it! . More in Renew
80% CO2 cut OK….
The UK can cut its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 without much economic
damage, according to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research,
WWF and the RSPB. It would cut GDP growth by 2-3% but the economy would
still triple in size- though 2 years later than it would otherwise.
… UK Climate doubts
A study led by Dietr Helm at Oxford University claims that UK emissions,
with air travel, shipping and imports included, have acually increased
by 19% since 1990, not reduced by 15% as claimed.
Energy regulator Ofgem’s second annual Sustainable Development
Report, says it was making good progress encouraging the sustainable
energy industry, and its chair said it ‘could make a significant
contribution to the government’s objectives on sustainability
with our current remit and within the framework of competitive energy
markets and independent regulation’. Earlier, the Sustainable
Development Commission had called for major remit changes.
DBERR’s new ‘Energy Markets Outlook’ is worth a look:
though it adopts a fairly complacent view of short-term fossil fuel
constraints (no mention of peak oil), it’s pretty optimistic about
the long term prospects for renewables. But its blind spot on the oil
issue is odd: DBERR says UK energy security is fine for now: www.berr.gov.uk/files/file42002.pdf
But is it? See: www.davidstrahan.com/blog/?p=65