Renew On Line (UK) number73
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 173 May-June 2008
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
1. UK Needs to try harder
The new EU energy policy calls on the UK the get 15% of its energy from renewables by 2020- near the bottom of the EU league table, but still requiring massive effort. The British Wind Energy Association said that meant ‘we need to increase renewable electricity to at least 35% in the next 12 years’. But Friends of the Earth said that current plans ‘fall well short of what is required to meet its share of the EU renewable target. Despite pledging to triple the amount of electricity generated from renewables by 2015, this is still less than half of what Britain should be aiming for from the electricity sector if it is to meet its EU target.’ Moreover, FoE say that the EU climate targets- a 20% cut in emissions by 2020 are actually weaker than the UN climate agreement reached in Bali.
To be fair, the EU has said that it is looking to a 30% cut, if it can get commitments from other countries and regions, and the UK government has been talking about raising the UK’s national 2050 target beyond 60% to perhaps 80%. But there is no doubting that the UK needs to do much more- and not just in terms of electricity. The Renewable Energy Association commented that we ‘need a new approach. Historically the government have focussed renewable energy policies only on the electricity sector, forgetting about heat and transport energy’.
DBERR has now launched a consultation on renewable heat. But why has it taken so long? And, as BBC radio’s ‘Costing the Earth’ programme asked (31/1/08), why were we so far behind the rest of the EU on renewables overall? Only Luxembourg and Malta had lower percentages. OFGEM blamed the Renewables Obligation for our slowness....
Ducking targets, stalling for time
To be fair, the UK is being asked to boost its renewables by 13.7%- more than any other EU country: the increases range down through 10.5% for Portugal to 6.2% for Romania. See www.energy.eu/#renewable. So perhaps it’s not surprising that, as Reuters claimed, the UK was ‘seeking a relaxation of its renewable energy targets set by the EC’. It noted that Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told a parliamentary committee that 15% was ‘an extremely demanding target. We are negotiating about that. Our share of the costs will be very high compared with other European Union states,’ and Reuters said that, though he ‘ducked a question on whether that meant Britain was trying to get a lower target’, he ‘hinted that an extension of the date could be part of the discussions with the Commission’. If the UK was in the middle of a major project, such as the Severn barrage, which would deliver the target but a few years late, then he felt the EC should take that into account.
Do more While Wicks seemed to be stalling for time, the lobby groups want seriously expanded action e.g. FoE said that ‘The Government must revolutionise its support for renewables. We need policies that meet the scale of the challenge, including a far stronger target for large-scale renewables and generous, guaranteed payments to householders, communities and businesses that generate their own energy from solar panels and wind turbines.’ It added that the new EU targets should not be met by ‘buying in’ renewable energy credits from overseas. But in common with most other green groups, FoE wants one of the targets dumped- it says we should scrap the target for 10% of the EU's transport fuel to come from biofuels by 2020. ‘Biofuels have, at best, uncertain climate benefits and their production is threatening forests, peatlands, other wildlife habitats and undermining people’s rights’.
Emissions down The government did have some good news for us though: data for 2006 shows that UK greenhouse gas emissions were down slightly (0.5%) on 2005 levels- CO2 down by 0.1% - although international aviation and shipping were not included. DEFRA said UK’s greenhouse gas emissions were now 16.4% less than in 1990, and when the effect of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme was included, the overall cut was 20.7%. Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said that while the downward trend was positive, a much bigger change was needed. ‘The UK is on track to meet and go well beyond its Kyoto commitments, but as a country we must do much more across the board. We have to make a real change to every aspect of our lives and our economy.’
*DEFRA say Greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 fell 0.5% on 2005 levels, while CO2 emissions fell by 0.1%, despite a 2.9% rise in the GNP. The domestic sector did best- CO2 4% down. Business cut by1.6%. But transport CO2 rose by1.3% and energy supply by 1.5%.
The Geopressure issue also popped up. Natural gas comes out the ground at too high a pressure to be fed into the gas main, so it has to be depressurised. That yields some energy, which can be captured by using turbines, and the power from these has been given ROC’s. But there were some objections- since it isn’t a renewable source. However it would otherwise be wasted. Lobbying by the industry, Greenpeace and MP’s produced a reprieve- BERR says it can continue to get ROCs.
Media report say that Bath based 2oC and National Grid can now to push ahead with an initial £50m-£60m programme through their joint venture company Blue-ng. They plan to install the technology at power plants at Beckton, being built to supply the nearby site for the 2012 Olympic Games, and at Southall, Middlesex. They say the company could install 1GW of generating capacity in the UK over the next two years. Source: D.Telegraph 22/01/08 See:www.2oc.co.uk
Scotland goes its own way
Meanwhile, Scotland is running in effect, its own parallel, more ambitious programme: e.g. for marine energy- see p.3. The Executive now says it wants to cut GHG emissions by 80% by 2050- a third more than the UK target. That implies a big push. While the UK aims to get 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2020, Scotland has already got there, and its 2020 target is 50%. See the Technology section of Renew 173.
A Greenish Budget 2008
The Budget avoided a wind fall tax on energy companies but was still quite green:
* HMG will ‘consult on the most appropriate support mechanism for micro- generation at individual and community level, including the option of a feed-in-tariff’.
* Non-residential buildings to be zero carbon by 2019.
* Climate Change Levy increased in line with
inflation, Landfill tax up
* Vehicle emission taxes raised, aviation tax too
* A full Carbon budget will be presented in 2009.
But it’s still pretty timid...
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