Articles filed under Taxes & Subsidies from Europe

Green energy tariffs ‘not always what they seem’

Green energy tariffs that promise customers environmentally friendly electricity supplies face official scrutiny amid concerns that customers are not getting what they pay for. Ofgem will today outline plans to create a ratings scheme to highlight the most planet-friendly packages. The regulator is working with the Energy Saving Trust to determine a set of criteria under which the best schemes will be awarded five stars.
5 Jun 2007

U.K. announces solar, wind grants

LONDON, May 25 (UPI) -- The British government Friday said grants will be made available again for those who want to install micro-wind turbines and solar panels on their homes. The Department of Trade and Industry's Low Carbon Buildings Program has already allocated more than $13.5 million to householders and, following the addition of an extra $11.9 million in the national budget, applications are set to open Tuesday for an estimated $23.6 million remaining.
25 May 2007

Hard wind

Marshland St James is an isolated, functional, centre-less village, little more than a ribbon of houses along a country road surrounded by farms. In the far west of Norfolk, close to the borders with Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, it is a place that locals describe as "bandit country". It is not a place you expect an issue of national importance to find its focus. But on Monday, just a few days before the government released its white paper on energy, a local farmer was found dead in a drainage canal close to his home. A statement from his family linked his death to a battle over wind farms that has torn the village apart.
24 May 2007

New ‘green’ energy will come at a high price for everyone

Energy has a price - as consumers we are painfully aware of it when the gas bill surges or the cost of a litre of petrol catches us by surprise. When it bites our wallets we tend to blame oil companies, Middle Eastern sheikhs or Russian oligarchs, depending on prejudice or the last news headline. Less understood is the political price of energy, but it was the hidden message in the reams of paper published yesterday by Alastair Darling, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. For years the Government ignored the warnings about crumbling nuclear plants and the need to scrap dirty coal power stations. Finally someone has grasped the uranium fuel rod.
24 May 2007

Europe enters U.S. wind market

Since the extension of the production tax credit, European wind companies have been keener on investing in the U.S. market. Several of the largest turbine producers are now selling to U.S. developers for projects, and opening offices and manufacturing plants in the United States. The federal production tax credit was extended for two years in August 2005 by President Bush. It was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2007, but was extended as one of Congress' last acts and will now run through Dec. 31, 2008. The PTC provides a 1.5 cent per kilowatt hour credit, or 1.9 cents when inflation-adjusted, to energy facilities during the first 10 years of operation.
14 May 2007

Millions thrown at the turbines

Landowners in the North-East are being offered staggering sums of money to site wind farms on their property, The Journal can reveal today. A contract seen by The Journal for a site in the region could see the landowner rake in more than £6m for agreeing to the turbines. It demonstrates the huge temptation for landowners, who are offered a guaranteed income way in excess of what they could gain from any other source, for no outlay of their own. And it also illustrates the prices power companies are willing to pay due to the massive incomes they themselves can generate through a Government subsidy system for wind power.
30 Apr 2007

System fuels the scramble for cash

Our report described how generators are favouring on-shore wind farms because they are much cheaper to develop than technology such as offshore wind or tidal power. Therefore, the Government is considering changing its policy to offer more ROCs per MWh for more expensive technology. This could reduce the amount of money companies can make from wind farms. However, this will not change until 2009, and any wind farm that is already established by that point will not be affected. For that reason, there is a suspicion that firms are racing to acquire sites before the cut-off point - and the huge amount of money they can make from ROCs mean they can afford to offer large payments to landowners who are willing to allow turbines to be erected.
30 Apr 2007

Global warming a lame excuse for turbines

So I'm afraid wind turbines on the Assynt Foundation land will do three things: destroy the iconic scenery, destroy the environment and divide the community. The one thing they might do in addition is make (subsidy) money, which is what all wind farm developers really want. Don't come up with the lame excuse of global warming. Say it straight. It's the money.
27 Apr 2007

The wheels of fortune

A government subsidy system is prompting a "wind rush" in which electricity generators are dashing to erect turbines across the North's countryside. The incentive scheme ensures generating companies which invest in renewable energy sources are paid lucrative sums by suppliers for each megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity they produce. As a result, the companies bidding to erect turbines are offering landowners in the North vast sums as they try to cash in. Suppliers are told they must take an increasing portion of their energy from renewables - the Government's broad target is 20% by 2020 - and the extra cash they need to pay for this is added to household bills. Foreign generating companies have admitted they are now trying to set up wind farms in the UK because it offers the most attractive subsidy package in Europe.
26 Apr 2007

Industry caught in carbon ‘smokescreen’

Francis Sullivan, environment adviser at HSBC, the UK's biggest bank that went carbon-neutral in 2005, said he found "serious credibility concerns" in the offsetting market after evaluating it for several months. "The police, the fraud squad and trading standards need to be looking into this. Otherwise people will lose faith in it," he said. These concerns led the bank to ignore the market and fund its own carbon reduction projects directly.
25 Apr 2007


THESE should be heady times for Vestas, a Danish firm that makes more than a quarter of the world's wind turbines. The wind business is booming, and the company said last week that it had swung into profit in 2006, thanks to an 8% rise in revenue. But there is "significant unexploited production capacity", Vestas says, due to shortages of high-quality turbine components. Other companies grumble about a lack of gearboxes and bearings. Wind firms' worries echo those in the solar-power business, which is also booming but where a shortage of polysilicon has hampered growth. Silicon is made from sand, which is abundant, but there are not enough refineries to turn it into solar-grade polysilicon. As a result, prices for silicon contracts have more than doubled, to $70 or $80 per kilogram, in the past three years, says Jesse Pichel, an analyst at Piper Jaffray. In both industries demand has rocketed and supply cannot keep up. The wind business is growing by more than 30% a year worldwide, with America leading the way. (This week Energias de Portugal became the latest European utility to invest in American wind farms, with the $2.2 billion purchase of Horizon Wind Energy.) And when a solar incentive scheme took hold in Germany in 2004-05, demand in Europe roughly doubled, says Ron Kenedi of Sharp, the biggest solar-cell maker.
29 Mar 2007

Toon and Country

Now, here's where profit pushes its ugly snout into the trough ahead of the needs of the environment: to encourage renewable energy generation, the Government (using our money) pays the generator a guaranteed subsidy, currently around £35 per megawatt hour (MWh). With the scramble among suppliers to buy these ROCs to fulfil their obligation, the most recent price at auction - yes, there's even an eBay-style auction site selling packets of renewable power - was a whopping £46. Now, given that the wholesale price of all electricity is currently about £45, that plus the subsidy doubles the value of wind electricity to more than £90 per MWh. Given that sort of return, those generator boys are - if you'll pardon the expression - cooking with gas. After all, at that price the sort of 120m high mast mooted for dozens of Northumberland sites currently seeking planning permission is calculated to be worth £400,000 a year per turbine to the generating company. Perhaps something more practical than the prospect of quick and plentiful profits should be proffered before we kiss goodbye to the most beautiful landscape in England?
23 Mar 2007

Budget to give tax breaks for green homes

Gordon Brown will unveil tax breaks for households generating their own green energy as he uses his eleventh budget to challenge the environmental credentials of David Cameron's Conservatives by proposing incentives to tackle climate change. Whitehall sources said last night that Mr Brown is likely to encourage people to install solar panels, wind turbines and other carbon-free sources of energy in their homes by exempting from income tax any money made by selling excess power back to the national grid.
19 Mar 2007

Renewables funding boost announced

The Executive has announced a major funding boost to encourage greater use of solar panels and rooftop wind turbines. Ministers have allocated an additional £2 million for the Scottish Community and Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI). The aim is to help support the growing market for these small-scale energy projects, such as the solar panels and turbines. The announcement coincided with the publication of the Energy Efficiency and Microgeneration (EEM) Strategy for Scotland, which will go out to consultation.
12 Mar 2007

Green energy grants for homes to stop in 2008

A green energy grants programme for householders will be scrapped after mid-2008 the Department of Trade and Industry said on Tuesday. A spokesman for the DTI said householders should be able to fund costs for their own wind turbines and solar panels when the current scheme ends because renewable energy devices are becoming cheaper. "Householder funding will cease in summer 2008," the spokesman told Reuters, adding that there was no plan to extend or replace the scheme after that date. The news comes against a backdrop of repeated government exhortations to the public to adopt greener lifestyles and ahead of government energy policy proposals in May that will put great emphasis on micro-generation and energy efficiency. At a European Union summit on Thursday Prime Minister Tony Blair will back a European Commission plan to oblige all 27 EU states get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Currently Britain gets just four percent of its power from renewables like wind and waves.
7 Mar 2007

Global Warming: No Easy Fix

Policymakers have settled on 'emissions trading' as their favorite global-warming fix. But it isn't working. March 12, 2007 issue - Global warming isn't the only debate that may be over. Governments and policymakers around the world also seem to have settled on a solution. "A responsible approach to solving this crisis," Al Gore said recently at New York University's Law School, would be "to authorize the trading of emissions ... globally." Emissions trading, also called carbon trading, is being expanded in the European Union and Japan. And in many places where it's yet to take hold, like Sacramento, Sydney and Beijing, politicians are embracing it. Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and Europe's foremost political expert on global warming, predicts that the value of carbon credits in circulation, now about $28 billion, will climb to $40 billion by 2010. This should be great news for the environment, but many experts have their doubts. The notion that emissions trading is going to make a significant dent in global warming is deeply flawed, they say. Current emissions-trading schemes have proved to be little more than a shell game, allowing polluters in the developed world to shift the burden of making cuts onto factories in the developing world.
4 Mar 2007

Green energy industry attacks government rationing of grants

Britain’s renewable energy industry last night accused the government of presiding over a farce after a scramble for heavily rationed grants for solar panels and wind turbines led to one month’s allocation being snapped up in little more than an hour. As Tony Blair prepares to commit Britain to a binding target of generating 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2020 at next week’s European summit, companies installing green technologies said the government’s words were not being matched by actions. The accusation came after the Department of Trade and Industry exhausted its £500,000 allocation under the low carbon buildings programme by 10.15am yesterday - just 75 minutes after inviting applications.
2 Mar 2007
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