Posts tagged with: Climate change

The Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond has warned against investing heavily in nuclear energy explaining that it would divert much needed funds away from clean, renewable sources of energy. The Scottish Minister has asserted the need for a coherent investment program in green energy sources, both as a means of slowing climate change and helping the government to meet its green target, which in Scotland is producing 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Replying to questions in the Scottish Parliament, Alex Salmond stated,

“Anything you invest – and it will be billions – in nuclear power is billions taken away from clean technology and in renewable technology. We have great prospects in our renewables sector – I think that is a huge priority.”

Although there is a general acceptance that renewable sources will be essential for future energy production, nuclear is often considered to be a very real and viable alternative to fossil fuel production. Lord Adair, Chairman for the Committee for climate change remains an exponent of nuclear energy as a possible solution to future energy production but there has been a general move away from nuclear of late partly due to concerns over safety. This was highlighted by the recent Bradwell Power Station case whereby it was found guilty of leaking radioactive material from its reactors over a period of fourteen years.

The Energy Bill of last year sets out provisions for the introduction of a feed-in tariff in 2010 as a means of attracting investment in renewable energy production. It is believed that once there is a coherent tariff system in place in the UK, investment in green energy will become much more widespread and more attractive compared to nuclear which is often criticised for being both unsafe and expensive.

2009 has been heralded as a crucial year in tackling climate change and helping the UK meet its green objectives. In a statement released in a New Year message celebrating the creation of the new Department of Energy and Climate Change, Mr Milliband said that 2008 had been ‘historic’, referring to legislation passed in late November.

The secretary of state of Energy and Climate change also paid particular attention to the upcoming Copenhagen International Summit which will seek to look beyond the goals set out in the Kyoto Agreement whose objectives only go onto 2012.

Milliband said, “We have seen significant progress during 2008 in our goals of developing secure, affordable and clean energy, and tackling the threat of global warming. In 2009, the world will meet again to agree a new international deal on climate change, while in the UK we will be laying out the groundwork for long-term energy efficiency improvements and carbon reduction measures.

“However 2009 will be a crucial year when it comes to negotiating a meaningful, binding climate change deal in Copenhagen. There is still much to be done, but I’m confident we can achieve a global deal” added the Minister.

The decision to introduce feed-in tariffs and mandatory smart meters have been the most important innovations of the newly established department. Feed-in tariffs are seen as essential to the implementation of a cost effective renewable energy industry in the UK and will indeed play a fundamental role in the adherence to both the Kyoto standards and any targets set out in Copenhagen’s climate summit.

In the Department’s New Year message, it also highlighted achievements made in the field of carbon emissions trading, where the UK saw the world’s first auction of carbon emissions allowances in November under Phase II of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. This year should see preparations for more organisations to join emissions trading activities.


East Kilbride based wind turbine manufacturer Proven Energy has said it wants the government to set a 20p per unit feed-in tariff rate for wind when they are introduced in the UK. Jamie Glover, UK channel manager for Proven, said: “Savings are entirely wind dependent but if they are on a good site, wind turbines pay themselves off in about five years on average, and will continue to make money after that. But feed-in tariffs will decrease the payback time proportionally, and will certainly drive demand.”

“Payback time will depend on what rate is decided when feed-in tariffs are introduced. In Europe there are many different rates but I would hope for a 20p rate for the UK – the payback time for people with small-wind turbines would be greatly reduced” added Glover.

The Energy Act legislation passed in November will see the full introduction of feed-in tariffs by early 2010 and allow small energy producers such as Proven to sell surplus back into the national grid at a fixed rate. Some in the energy industry have reservations about the public awareness of the feed-in tariffs at this point in time, however at is hoped that come the roll out, knowledge of the tariffs will have filtered through the media. Jamie Glover expressed this concern, “Widespread knowledge of the new feed-in tariffs is not available at the moment so we have not experienced a greater interest because of it. But I am sure that clarification of what the tariffs will be, as well as time, will ensure that the public are more aware of the savings and benefits of generating your own electricity.”

However, despite these concerns during the last year there was a 50% increase in public awareness of the new feed-in tariffs attributed to soaring household electricity bills and a general increase in technological knowledge. Proven, which has recently installed a turbine at a school in Leeds certainly believes that by 2010 a 20p tariff rate will make their business viable in the long term.

Financial consultants Ernst & Young have rated the UK as the fifth most popular country to invest in as a result of the Energy Bill which was passed in November according to their Renewable energy country attractiveness indices.

Britain’s rise to joint fifth with Spain has been attributed to recent legislation which specifically sets out provisions for the introduction of Feed-in tariffs by 2010. Feed-in tariffs are fundamental to investors as they guarantee a premium fixed rate for energy fed back into the national grid by small, renewable energy producers.

Also, acting as an important stimulus for investors is the falling value of Pound Sterling which is predicted to reach parity with the Euro in the new year.UK renewable projects increasingly expensive as imported technologies from Europe continue to rise as a result of the exchange rate.

“The falling value of the pound is making

“The declining price of oil is compounding the problem by reducing project revenues as wholesale energy prices fall, resulting in many projects becoming uneconomical. It is unlikely that falling commodity prices such as steel and copper will compensate enough” predicts Head of renewable energy at Ernst & Young, Jonathan Johns.

The recent Renewable energy country attractiveness indices saw Germany reach first position as a target for investors and is now seen as the leading light in terms of viable renewable energy innovations.