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Posts tagged with: Friends of the Earth

News of spending cutbacks have made depressing reading over the last six months as the government is seeking to rein in spending as a way of controlling spiraling national debt. Health, education, policing and defence have of course been at the forefront of controversy regarding spending reviews and the inevitable consequences which arise as a side effect. Now it is unfortunately renewable energy’s turn to feel the squeeze as some call for cut backs in green energy incentives.

At a time when all members of the coalition government are bemoaning cupboards barer than those of Old mother Hubbard it is perhaps not particularly surprising that Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has been urged to safeguard investments in British renewable energy.

The feed-in tariff which was introduced back in April works by offering guaranteed, premium rates for energy produced by small scale renewable generators. While Huhne has come out and said that, “There is no money left”, he has at least until now talked a good game about supporting green energy in this country. Feed-in tariffs have been absolutely crucial in solar pv taking off in the UK and the future success of UK solar undoubtedly relies on the existence of a strong tariff scheme.

Fearing cutbacks which would cause irreversible harm to burgeoning UK renewable energy businesses, Friends of the Earth (FOE) have carried out their own report designed to show that maintaining and encouraging a strong renewable energy industry has distinct advantages for the struggling e News of spending cutbacks have made depressing reading over the last six months as the government is seeking to rein in spending as a way of controlling spiraling national debt. Health, education, policing and defence have of course been at the forefront of controversy regarding spending reviews and the inevitable consequences which arise as a side effect. Now it is unfortunately renewable energy’s turn to feel the squeeze as some call for cut backs in green energy incentives.

At a time when all members of the coalition government are bemoaning cupboards barer than those of Old mother Hubbard it is perhaps not particularly surprising that Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has been urged to safeguard investments in British renewable energy.

The feed-in tariff which was introduced back in April works by offering guaranteed, premium rates for energy produced by small scale renewable generators. While Huhne has come out and said that, “There is no money left”, he has at least until now talked a good game about supporting green energy in this country. Feed-in tariffs have been absolutely crucial in solar pv taking off in the UK and the future success of UK solar undoubtedly relies on the existence of a strong tariff scheme.

Fearing cutbacks which would cause irreversible harm to burgeoning UK renewable energy businesses, Friends of the Earth (FOE) have carried out their own report designed to show that maintaining and encouraging a strong renewable energy industry has distinct advantages for the struggling economy.

Campaign director for FOE, Craig Bennett said,

“It’s absurd that the Treasury is even reviewing FIT payments because the scheme isn’t financed by taxpayers, and there is already a planned review in two years time. Huhne must stand firm and allow councils, communities and businesses to benefit from green energy revolution.”

The real benefits of feed-in tariffs will be put into perspective in a couple of years when we are able to retrospectively assess the growth of UK renewable investment and uptake compared with our European counterparts. While there are some who may argue that a cash strapped government could better spend its money elsewhere, it is hard to deny that a strong green energy industry would be a vital both for revitalising the economy and helping homeowners make savings on utility bills.

With the details of the much anticipated (and much debated) UK feed-in tariff announced, discussions are already taking place as to whether the rates will suffice to kick start the fledgling solar industry in Britain.

With the UK as one of the last major countries in the EU to implement a feed-in tariff mechanism as a means of boosting solar investment attractiveness, we have already given the opinion on this website that the government seems to be taking reals steps towards a viable renewable energy economy.

Praise

Coming under praise following the government’s lengthy consultation process have been key features of the tariff mechanism such as 25 year lifespan which will help to secure investments, inflation linkage , and calculations that the average annual ROI for sub 4kW installations will be around 7-8%.

With European tariff models having already pioneered the way through trial and error, it seems that the UK government has taken heed of some of the potential pitfalls that can harm the effectiveness of feed-in tariff mechanisms.

Certainly, in their annual Solar Attractiveness Indices, Ernst & Young consistently look favourably upon those nations with strong, long term tariff rates which offer security and real value to money for investors. With the recently announced tariff details it certainly appears that everything is in place for a strong solar industry to develop in the UK as investors are enticed by the opportunities of this new market.

With a history of incentivising renewable micro-generators, energy suppliers, Good Energy are well aware of the benefits that can be achieved from the recently announced feed-in tariff system, with CEO Juliet Davenport commenting that,

“Good Energy has shown for many years that financial incentives work on a commercial scale, benefiting generators at minimal cost to the energy consumer when delivered effectively.”

Solar thermal potential

The announced details of a further thermal tariff to be implemented next year also seem to have exceeded most expectations with regards to the solar thermal industry in the UK.

Tariffs offered for micro-generation using solar thermal technology will significantly boost the UK solar thermal industry as Chief Executive of Micropower Council Dave Sowden has stated,

“We particularly welcome the significant boost given to heat technologies such as solar thermal and heat pumps, and the recognition by Government of the crucial role microCHP is going to play in reducing carbon emissions for those with gas-fired central heating,”

Criticism

Unsurprisingly, criticism has been voiced from environmental campaign group and strong advocates of widespread renewable energy use Friends of the Earth (FOE).

With the government having set a target of generating 10 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, there is a concern that not enough is being done to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. While solarfeedintariff.co.uk amongst others have been happily surprised by the tariff announcement, FOE maintains that the rates will not be sufficient to attract investment in the industry in the face of strong competition from abroad. FOE campaigner Dave Timms has commented that,

“Installing renewable technologies will now be a good investment for many homes – but farmers, businesses, communities and others will get little or no extra incentive to invest in clean electricity.”

FOE maintain that in order for the UK solar industry to take off, just as the German industry did, the return on investment will have to be more around the 10 per cent mark rather than the 6-7 per cent figure in order to attract the levels of investment required to render the industry viable in the long term.

Solarfeedintariff.co.uk believes that the UK has a great role to play in the future of renewable energy generation and that with the feed-in tariff in place, 2010 is going to be a very exciting year.

If you are interested in what the tariff could mean for your home or business, or want information on the investment potential of solar in the UK, this website will be regularly updated with news and investment products to meet your needs.

In a letter written to the Guardian by Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth (FOE), they have outlined their belief that the government is not doing enough to promote small-scale renewable energy generation in the UK.

The letter published on Jan 18th in the national daily newspaper asserted that the government’s proposed targets of producing two per cent of all energy by renewable means by 2020 is too low, and that the UK government should drastically increase its ambition if there is to be a realistic hope of fighting climate change through carbon emission reduction.

Initiatives such as the creation of the department of Energy and Climate change, the passing of the Energy Act in 2008 and the more recent announcement of the imminent introduction of a Clean Energy Cash Back Scheme have done little to allay the concerns of FOE. In a statement issued by the influential environmental group Executive Director, Andy Atkins he commented that,

“Businesses generating their own clean electricity will reduce their energy bills, increase their competitiveness and reduce their vulnerability to future fossil energy price rises.

He added, “Setting higher feed-in tariffs for small-scale renewable generators could treble the amount of renewable electricity generation by 2020 compared with the proposed scheme.”

With similar pressure groups such as We Support Solar urging the government to deliver higher targets with regards to 2020 renewable energy generation there is a mounting media pressure for the government to match its rhetoric with results.

If initiatives such as the Clean Energy Cash Back scheme fail to bring about a wholesale change in Energy production within the next five years, we can certainly expect further disquiet from those with a real desire to see the effects of climate change brought to an end.

The end of the British government’s consultancy period on the introduction of a feed-in tariff (FIT) system, to be called the Clean Energy Cash Back System when introduced in April 2010 finished last week, sparking debate on the viability of the proposed system.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has raised doubts as to the potential effectiveness of the Cash Back System. The proposed system, essentially a feed-in tariff, works by offering fixed, premium rates for renewable energy fed-in to the grid by small scale (sub 5mW) energy producers, and bought by the utility companies who are obliged by the legislation to purchase the units of energy over a set number of years.

With the key purpose of the tariffs to attract investment in young renewable industries through incentivisation, the REA has expressed doubts about whether the rate offered by the government for clean energy will prove sufficient to spark sufficient investment.

Indeed, while supporters of the scheme have stated that 5% of the UK’s energy could be generated by renewable means by 2020, the UK government has set the meager target of 2% by 2020 triggering worries that the rate will not be high enough to demonstrate attractive returns for those wishing to invest in the new industries.

Speaking on behalf of the REA Leonie Greene stated,

“From the industry’s perspective the scheme is well designed, but the proposed tariff levels are set too low and applied inconsistently across technologies.”

Where feed-in tariffs have been introduced elsewhere, they have proved to be extremely effective mechanisms for generating huge interest in green energy. However, successes have been based upon generous, yet well balanced schemes and this will be a key factor in either the success or failure of the UK renewable industry.

Dave Timms, campaigner for Friends of the Earth expressed his own concerns,

“The Clean Energy Cash Back scheme has huge potential, but it will fail to make an impact unless the government dramatically improves the amount that will be paid to businesses, households and communities that generate renewable electricity.”