Britain to Boost Renewables, Predicts Newspaper

The Guardian newspaper says the British government is planning to deliver a blow to the nuclear industry’s hopes of a major revival.

LONDON, England, UK, 2001-12-31 [SolarAccess.com] Political correspondent Patrick Wintour says federal ministers intend to double the proportion of electricity to be generated by renewable sources from 10 to 20 percent by 2010. As well, he says the British government will signal its commitment to a low carbon economy and renewable energy by announcing that, in 2010, up to 10 percent of all new cars should be powered by hydrogen and fuel cells. The proposed target of 20 percent from renewables would make Britain one of the largest producers of green power in Europe, but the newspaper says the announcement may raise concern about the siting of windfarms on the mainland, as well as offshore. There have been suggestions that the government’s energy review would propose an expansion of nuclear power, with as many as 15 new reactors to be commissioned. “The review, led by the Cabinet Office performance and innovation unit and due to be published in the next few weeks, is expected to be more equivocal about requests for tax breaks for nuclear energy,” says Wintour. Nuclear advocates argue that Britain’s projected reliance on imports of natural has requires a switch to nuclear in order to ensure long-term energy security, as well as to meet the country’s ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions. The government will argue that the energy equation is more complex than a simple switch to nuclear, explains the newspaper, and predicts that the review will conclude that renewable energy schemes must be made more acceptable to local communities, and highlight a need to ease the planning process. Under the latest planning rounds, only 40 percent of requests for applications for windfarms above 1 MW capacity have been granted, which is twice the rejection rate for other planning requests. “We spend most of our time trying to win local planning permission,” the paper quotes George Hardie, president of Zilkha Renewables. “Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but I think wind turbines are beautiful and very elegant. Yes, they are big, they have to have big poles, and they cannot be hidden.” He says the planning system is hampering the growth of windfarms, such as Zilkha’s plan to install 35 MW of wind energy in Britain. “In Denmark, they are having an intelligent conversation,” he is quoted. “They have reached 15 to 20 percent of electricity from wind generation but, in Britain, they have reached about one-tenth of 1 percent, and the planning people are crying foul.” The Guardian says government research shows that the general public favours renewable energy, including wind energy, but not in their rural area.
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