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United Kingdom

United Kingdom

TOO BUREAUCRATIC

Two reports published in October by the UK's Association of Electricity Producers (AEP) call for improvements to the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation system of support for renewable energies. The competitive tendering process should be less bureaucratic and companies planning projects deserve to have clearer signals about which technologies the government is interested in and what prices they should be aiming at.

Two reports by the UK's Association of Electricity Producers (AEP) call for improvements to the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation system of support for renewable energies. "Our reports show that although the system in Britain has been successful, after five years it needs some improvement, says the AEP's Martin Alder.

"The competitive tendering process should be less bureaucratic and companies planning projects deserve to have clearer signals about which technologies the government is interested in and what prices they should be aiming at. Many companies have wasted thousands of pounds on preparing bids which were never going to fit the criteria finally decided upon. It has been rather like inviting people to compete in the Olympics without publishing the full rules for the event and without setting a qualifying time," says Alder.

"Renewable Energy -- A Policy Review" looks at the development of renewables since the 1980s while "A Scoping Study to Review Obstacles to the Growth of a Renewable Energy Industry in the UK " points out the difficulties faced by renewable energy businesses. This report calls the NFFO process bureaucratic and says the stop-start nature of the obligations in the UK make it difficult for companies to stay in business. For many technologies, the planning process is a serious obstacle, it says. But while public perception may be a problem, the AEP also thinks its own members sometimes need to approach planning issues more carefully.

Competition in connecting projects to the grid is not vigorous enough so it has not brought costs to developers down as far as it should, argues the report. In 1998, when earlier NFFO contracts expire, the AEP wants payments by the Regional Electricity Companies for electricity supplied by renewable energy generators to reflect the benefits they bring to local systems. These include savings in grid losses and reductions in power needed from the national grid. This should help renewables companies to stay in business after 1998, says the report.

The findings of both reports echo many criticisms levelled by other organisations at NFFO and the lack of provisions for renewable projects post 1998. Both reports were published in October.

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