United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Policy outlined but not defined

A new policy document, Power for a Sustainable Future, by the British Wind Energy Association was presented at the opening of the association's annual conference in Exeter. More ambitious targets for UK wind energy development were the key focus of the document although conference delegates were disappointed that it did not deliver a strategy for helping prepare the wind industry for the open market.

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More ambitious targets for UK wind energy development is a key demand in a new policy document produced by the British Wind Energy Association. Wind Energy -- Power for a Sustainable Future was presented by BWEA director Hugh Babington Smith at the opening of the association's annual conference in Exeter.

In its recommendations, the BWEA calls on the government for:

¥ a new set of national goals leading to an overall target of 10% of UK electricity demand from wind by 2025. This would involve 12,500 MW installed capacity and create some 13,000 jobs. The first of the interim goals would be for 1000 MW of installed wind capacity by 2000 -- one third of the present government target for 1500 MW DNC.

¥ a fair price for wind reflecting the full value of generation "embedded" in the network.

¥ encouragement for green energy trading by not charging Value Added Tax on electricity from renewables.

¥ continued funding of research and development of wind technology.

¥ promotion of the British wind industry through foreign aid programmes.

¥ encouragement of community ownership and development of offshore and lower wind speed sites. Both aims have so far been hindered by the competitive nature of present system of renewables support through the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO).

¥ continuation of some form of the NFFO system of support for renewables. Ideally this would be a rolling programme with an open band without any capacity cap for technologies which, like wind, are near convergence with the market place. Alternatives to this arrangement could be an obligation on electricity suppliers to buy a percentage of renewable electricity; or to buy all renewable energy offered to them at a set price.

The 10% is perfectly feasible, said Babington Smith. "It would create a UK wind industry worth £10 billion and a substantial industry sector able to compete in a world market estimated at £1.1 billion a year for at least the next ten years." Although the main partner of the policy is the government, it is a policy for everyone, he said. It is now being sent to all political parties, planners and opinion formers.

The policy was first unveiled two days earlier in London at a press launch of the BWEA's new publicity campaign. It is the result of a year's wrangling within the association. Both the BWEA's president, Colin Moynihan, and Babington Smith made no secret of the difficulties there had been in reaching a consensus. "We wrestled like mad with this document to come to grips with what are the key issues that we should put forward and how we should deliver those arguments," said Moynihan. "It will be an important influence on whoever is in power this time next year."

Among conference delegates, it received a mixed reception. Although welcomed, there was some disappointment that it did not deliver a strategy for helping prepare the wind industry for the open market. "The policy document is almost a PR document really," remarked Andrew Garrad. "It was difficult to come to some consensus of what we all wanted and therefore there aren't specific recommendations in here. There are general ideas which need to be turned into something specific."

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