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Developers reluctant to enter project planning arena
1 April 2001
Reluctance on the part of renewable energy project developers to enter the planning arena poses a serious threat to the government's targets for electricity from renewable sources. In an analysis of the permitting status of projects with Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) contracts, Gaynor Hartnell of the Confederation of Renewable Energy Associations (CREA) finds that the majority of developers have not yet applied for planning permits even though the British planning system is renown for its lengthy decision making process. In the case of wind, 96% of NFFO-5 projects (power purchase contracts awarded in 1999) and 61% of NFFO-4 projects (1997) had yet to enter the permitting process as of December. Hartnell says that in the case of wind developers, a key issue is financial cost and high risk of failure relative to the expected rate of return for the project. Other reasons for the slow submission of planning applications include expectations of a future improvement in the regulatory climate for building permits. This could be in anticipation of the introduction of regional targets for renewables, or a change in the NFFO rules to allow contracts to relocate (page 16), Hartnell suggests. The country will not meet its renewables targets however much funding is thrown at them if the current planning climate endures, warns Hartnell.
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