Britain Launches Review of Energy Policy

The British government has started a review of strategic issues surrounding energy policy, partly based on the assumption that renewable energy will not be a major contribution to energy supply within 50 years.

LONDON, England, UK, 2001-06-26 [SolarAccess.com] The British government has started a review of strategic issues surrounding energy policy, partly based on the assumption that renewable energy will not be a major contribution to energy supply within 50 years. Prime Minister Tony Blair he directed the Performance & Innovation Unit to undertake a review within the context of meeting the challenge of global warming, while ensuring “secure, diverse and reliable energy supplies” at a competitive price. “The work the PIU has already started, on resource productivity and renewable energy, will be an important input into this project,” Blair told the House of Commons on Monday. “This review will work closely with the resource productivity team and the main Whitehall departments, as well as business, international institutions, other governments and non-governmental organizations.” “The aim of the review will be to set out the objectives of energy policy and to develop a strategy that ensures current policy commitments are consistent with longer-term goals,” he adds. “The findings will also inform the Government’s response to last year’s report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution Energy.” Energy minister Brian Wilson will chair the advisory group for the project and will report by the end of this year. Other federal ministers on the advisory group include Environment minister Michael Meacher and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Smith. The review will consider the role of renewable energy, coal, gas and oil in the country’s future energy balance, as well as combined heat and power (cogeneration) and the enhancement of energy efficiency. The review will also consider what role the nuclear industry should play in meeting the objectives of environmental and security of supply. In the recent election campaign, Blair said he had no plans to increase Britain’s nuclear power capability, but the election manifesto of his Labor Party says coal and nuclear “currently play important roles in ensuring diversity in our sources of electricity generation.” Rumours indicate that the review will recommend an extension of nuclear power because renewables are unlikely to fill demand for more energy. “On current policies, initiatives to promote domestic renewable energy sources and reduce demand will be insufficient to reduce dependence on imported oil and gas,” says the scoping document. “UK energy security will be increasingly tied up with that of Europe as a whole.” The British government is trying to reduce the environmental impacts of energy consumption through a commitment to the Kyoto protocol, a target for renewable energy, a renewables research program, a target for cogeneration use, and a Climate Change Levy to improve energy efficiency in energy intensive sectors. Carbon emissions in Britain are expected to rise by 0.01 to 0.3 percent each year until 2050, and the UK Climate Change Program says a reduction of 60 percent is required. The country’s target under Kyoto is 12.5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, and the government has a domestic goal of reducing to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. The project will look at energy policy for Great Britain to 2050, and will “set out the objectives of energy policy and to develop a strategy that ensures current policy commitments are consistent with longer-term goals,” it explains. By 2020, 87 percent of Britain’s energy will be met by natural gas and oil, with coal accounting for 6 percent, renewables 4 percent and nuclear 3 percent, the document predicts.

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