Financing a hot topic at London renewables conference

Lack of confidence among investors in the renewables market, barriers to diversity of renewable technologies, and the domination of the market by multi-national companies were among the hot topics at the Renewable Power Association's annual conference in October. Leading industry players and commentators fiercely debated the issues under the chairmanship of BBC radio broadcaster John Humphrys. Some 150 people attended the event at London's Olympia conference and exhibition centre. Entitled Renewable Power -- Progress and Diversity, the event was part of the much bigger Sustainable Energy Expo. Energy minister Stephen Timms came under fire from delegates calling for government to act quickly to restore confidence in the renewables obligation. He resisted calls for government to shore up the buy-out fund, which consists of revenues from electricity retailers who pay a penalty to buy out of their renewables obligation. The proceeds of the fund are redistributed to those retailers who meet at least some of their obligation. Any shortfall in expected revenues, such as if a company goes bankrupt, will hit the pockets of retailers. "The renewables obligation is a market mechanism and needs to operate in the market -- not with government bail outs whenever problems arise," said Timms.