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'RENEWABLE ENERGY POWERS THE FUTURE' - GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES RENEWABLES REVIEW DOCUMENT

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Energy minister John Battle today set out the government's blueprint ...
Energy minister John Battle today set out the government's blueprint

for the future of renewable energy, reaffirming its commitment to

developing the industry, and boosting research and development to£43m over the next three years.

In a written answer to a question, Mr Battle said:

'I have today published a consultation paper 'New and Renewable

Energy - Prospects for the 21st Century' which reports on the outcome

of the government's review of new and renewable energy policy.

'The Renewables Review paper demonstrates that there is tremendous

potential for renewables to become a fully competitive part of UK

energy supply, Renewables make an important contribution to secure,

diverse and sustainable energy supplies in the UK. They are an

essential element of a cost- effective climate change programme and

will help the government meet its environmental objectives at the

least cost to the customer. Renewables play a vital role in enabling

us to meet our environmental targets of reducing greenhouse gases by

12.5% by 2012, and our goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by

20% by 2010.'

Commenting on the possibility of achieving 10% of UK electricity

needs from renewables, Mr Battle said:

'The document shows that producing 10% of UK electricity from

renewables appears to be feasible. The government intends working

towards a target of renewable energy providing 10% of UK electricity

supplies, cost effectively, as soon as possible. I want to achieve

this by 2010. However, this should not be seen as an end in itself,

but a step forward on the road to making renewables a strong,

world-beating industry.'

'There are already considerable benefits of the renewables industry.

The UK industry employs 3500 people. Through creating an export

drive, and by further developing the industry and the UK market, up

to 45,000 jobs could be created.'

Mr Battle commented on the success of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation

(NFFO) in encouraging the use of renewables. He said:

'NFFO has already provided over£600m of support for

renewables. Support for renewables under NFFO will accelerate in the

first decade of the next century and could rise to around£150m a year.

'NFFO has played a major part in stimulating the industry and

bringing down the costs of renewables. As a result of NFFO, an

industry of some 700 organisations, has been developed. This is why

the government want to see how NFFO can evolve, to see how it can

help the industry to thrive even more.

'The review document therefore presents options for possible ways to

support renewables while they are reaching market prices. It looks at

both the costs and benefits of moving towards a greater use of

renewables. In particular, it looks at options for a revised NFFO in

the competitive energy markets of the future.

'In addition, we have now agreed an increased budget for DTI's New

and Renewable Energy Support Programme. We have allocated£43.5m over the next three years for R&D tohelp achieve our aim.'

Mr Battle continued:

'The government is pressing ahead with reform - electricity

liberalisation, for instance, is giving consumers the ability to

choose their electricity supplier - including green electricity.

Suppliers are now offering green tariffs and I hope consumers will

take up this opportunity to stimulate growth in renewables.

'Solar energy also has real potential in the longer term. This is why

I recently asked for industry's involvement in taking forward three

major new photovoltaic initiatives. In addition, last year I

switched on the first solar panel system for a British school, as

part of the government's Foresight Scolar programme. I believe that

such schemes can play a valuable part in the development of the UK

renewables industry.

'This report identifies key issues and challenges which the

government and industry would need to pursue. Issues examined in the

paper include: planning arrangements; opportunities for developing

energy crops; and arrangements to ensure that embedded generators

(those directly connected to local distribution systems, often the

case with renewables producers) receive a fair price for their

electricity. It seeks views on the issues raised to enable the

Government to frame its future policy.

'I look forward to receiving those views and plan to make a further

announcement about our way forward in due course. The government is

committed to encouraging sustainable development, to ensure a better

quality of life for us and our children.'

Notes

1. Responses on the proposals in the Renewables Review document

should be made by 28 May 1999, to Neil Hornsby, Energy Technologies

Directorate, DTI, Room 1116, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET.

2. Copies of the Review document may be obtained from DTI Publications Orderline, Admail 528, London SW1W 8YT, tel: 0870 1502500, fax: 0870 1502333, e-mail: dtipubs@echristian.co.uk.

3. A separate publication on the current and future status of

renewable energy technologies has today been published by ETSU.

Copies are available from The New and Renewable Energy Enquiries

Bureau, ETSU, Harwell, Didcot, Oxon OX11 0RA. Tel 01235 433601 Fax

01235 433066.

4. Future policies and programmes on renewables will have to be

formed in the context of a number of broader environmental, energy

and economic policies, including the government's White Paper,

'Energy Sources for Power Generation', which sets out the broad

objective of energy policy, to ensure secure, diverse and sustainable

supplies of energy at competitive prices.

5. The development and deployment of renewable energy sources

forms part of both that policy and the UK Climate Change Programme,

on which the government published a consultation document in October

1998 to stimulate a national debate on how we might meet our targets.

In addition, the government has embarked on a major programme of

reform in the electricity sector which would provide both new

opportunities and difficulties to the further deployment of

renewables.

6. In November 1998, the government received the Marshall

Taskforce's report, which considered the use of economic instruments

to improve business use of energy and help reduce greenhouse gas

emissions. Following Lord Marshall's recommendations, the government

is to introduce a Climate Change Levy to encourage energy efficiency

in business. The government has made it clear that there will be an

extra£50m future support for schemes aimed at promoting

energy efficiency and support for renewables.

7. The European White Paper on renewables urges member states to

implement national strategies for the promotion of renewables with a

view to doubling the contribution of renewables to Europe's total

primary energy needs to 12% by 2010. Any further development of

renewables would need to take place within this general

environmental, energy and economic framework.

MAKING WAVES WORK: JOHN BATTLE ANNOUNCES A NEW INITIATIVE ON WAVE POWER RESEARCH

John Battle today also announced that the government is

launching a new wave power programme. Initially, the programme will

monitor the development of projects contracted under the third

Scottish Renewables Order and call for proposals for research,

development and demonstration. As part of his announcement on the

Renewables Review paper, Mr Battle said:

'New work commissioned in the course of the government's new and

renewable energy policy review and a new report by the Foresight

Marine Panel suggest that wave energy could contribute to UK energy

supplies in the longer term. Further research into wave energy is

needed to re-assess its potential and conduct the necessary RD&D

which is directly relevant to some of the more promising wave energy

technologies in order to show whether wave energy can be made

competitive. This is likely to require the testing of components and

devices.

'I therefore propose to expand the objectives of the Department's new

and renewable energy programme to include new work on wave energy

technology.

'I have always been convinced that wave energy has a place in the

future of this country's energy mix. I am pleased to see that our

analysis supports that view, and delighted that the latest Scottish

Renewable Order includes three wave energy projects.'

Mr Battle continued:

'Oceans cover three quarters of the earth's surface and represent a

large natural energy resource. If successfully developed, wave

energy might generate as much as 2,000 TWh annually worldwide. As a

first step, our renewable energy programme will assess whether wave

energy technology can be successfully developed. There is a

potential future market that the UK cannot ignore so we need to

maintain our leading edge in wave power research.

'I am pleased to be taking this first step in developing wave energy

in this country. We are well placed to develop this energy form since

much of our own shore is pounded by the NorthAtlantic. Waves around

our shores offer a theoretical resource of around 50 TWh of

electricity. We now need to try and find the keys to unlocking that

potential.'

Notes

1. Ocean waves are caused by the transport of energy from winds

as they blow across the surface of the sea. The amount of energy

transferred depends upon the speed of the wind and the distance over

which it acts. As deep ocean waves suffer little energy loss, they

can travel long distances if there is no intervening land mass.

Therefore the western coastline of Europe has one of the largest wave

energy resources in the world, being able to receive waves generated

by storms throughout the Atlantic.

2. Many different technologies have been suggested to harness

this energy but wave energy technology is still widely considered to

be in the Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) stage

world-wide.

3. The department of trade and industry previously supported some

research into wave energy, albeit at an earlier stage in its

development - some£17m was spent on research between 1974 and 1983,

for example. A decision was taken in 1994 to complete work on wave

energy, in favour of technologies which were nearer to immediate

commercial deployment.

4. Interest in wave energy has recently been boosted by its

inclusion in the third Order under the Scottish Renewables Obligation

(SRO-3), where three projects have been awarded contracts. For

details of the SRO-3 Order, contact Eric Macleod on 0131 244 2702.

5. Work under the DTI programme will be separate from, but

complementary to, the new£3.5m per year Engineering and Physical

Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)'s Renewable and New Energy

Technologies Programme, which includes more fundamental work on

marine renewable technologies. Support may require approval as a

State Aid from the European Commission.

6. The report 'Energies from the Sea: Towards 2020' (URN 99/501)

will be published by the Foresight Marine Panel on 9 April 1999.

Copies will be available from the Office of Science and Technology by

faxing a request to 0171 271 2015.

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