Posts tagged with: REA

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.”

The renewable energy industry has warned that the renewable energy sector risks failing in its infancy if the proposed closure of the micro-renewables fund, worth £50m goes ahead. The possible loss of funds along with the news that feed-in tariffs will not be introduced until 2010 has concerned some members of the industry who have lobbied the government for essential funds, crucial to the development and investment in small, renewable installations.

Ed Milliband, Secretary of the newly formed Department of Energy and Climate Change announced that all funding for low carbon public sector buildings will be withdrawn from June 2009. The scheme, called the Low Carbon Buildings Program (LCBP) has, until now paid up to half of all costs incurred in the installation of micro-renewable facilities in public sector buildings and has been absolutely essential for covering the inevitable cost of installing renewable energy plant.

Philip Wolfe, Director of REA criticised the government proposal stating, “The government rightly talks about a green jobs revolution, but these initiatives will be strangled at birth if the companies that deliver them have no market in the meantime.”

Lobbyists are arguing that the government should continue the funding program at least until the introduction of feed-in tariffs in order that the industry, in particular manufacturers of heating units do not collapse. The proposed feed-in tariff will help renewable investors by guaranteeing a fixed, premium rate for power fed-into the national grid. The premium rate paid for the green megawatts will be paid for by existing power companies and will offset the expense of generating power by renewable means. In places such as California, Germany and Australia this scheme has been extremely successful as a way of attracting investment.

The importance of the LCBP and the vitality it provides to the industry was highlighted by Ray Noble, ex UK head of BP Solar, “Before, there was about £8-10m worth of funding per year. The LCBP nearly tripled the amount.”