UK Renewable Energy Goals Need Incentives

A report given by the Lords Science and Technology Committee on the practical implications of the government’s renewable energy policy in the United Kingdom (UK) forwarded a dim outlook for the policy goals. Government targets to produce 10 percent of the UK’s electricity from renewable energy by 2010 are unlikely to be met because of insufficient long-term incentives for investors in the renewable energy sector.

Westminster, London – July 19, 2004 [] The committee examined the potential of a wide range of ways to produce renewable energy, from wind and energy crops, to tidal power and biomass. “The Government’s drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions and secure our energy supply should be applauded, but it’s not going about it the right way,” said Chairman of the Committee Lord Oxburgh. “Energy from renewable sources is expensive, and if the Government wants the private sector to invest in renewables so as to achieve its targets, it needs to provide more reassurance about long-term returns. The current support arrangements favor only those developments that will give a quick return — in effect onshore wind farms.” Favoring wind energy over other sources could leave the nation without an energy backup during times of high demand and low wind, Oxburgh said. In order to keep the renewable energy policy on-track the committee recommended a list of approaches that the government: – appoint a minister for energy – produce long-term stability in renewable electricity prices – reopen the debate on the potential of large-scale tidal power – create a more sympathetic regulatory framework for biomass generation – review the duties of the utility provider Ogfem to ensure that the company defends the long-term interest of consumers – provide better incentives for domestic power generation – involve local communities in the debate on energy issues – coordinate and plan the development of renewable energy “The Government is not giving energy the priority it deserves,” Oxburgh said. “It seems to believe that market forces alone will prevent the lights going out – we’re not so sure.”
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