Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from UK
Britain has had three national policies in ten years. And it still hasn't made up its mind about nuclear energy
Britain's energy consumers are prepared to meet some of the costs of curbing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, but are worried they may be forced to assume too large a burden.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FREE wind turbines and solar panels for low-income families were part of a £155 million blueprint for renewable energy unveiled by Liberal Democrats today. Scottish Lib Dem leader Nicol Stephen said his party had set a target of making 40,000 houses a year into energy friendly homes, with the help of grant support and tax rebates.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Britain has dropped resistance to a mandatory European Union target of drawing 20 percent of power from renewable sources by 2020 and expects EU leaders to set that goal next week, a British official said on Wednesday. Britain was one of several countries, including prominently France, which opposed making legally binding the objective for low-polluting energy sources such as solar and wind power when EU energy ministers debated the issue on February 15.
Members of a group campaigning against a windfarm are urging people to sign a petition calling on Tony Blair to withdraw subsidies for onshore turbine developments in “valued landscapes”. Members of Den Brook Valley Action Group (DBVAG), which has been fighting plans to build nine 394ft tall wind turbines in the valley between North Tawton and Bow, are awaiting the outcome of a public inquiry into the plan, which was held in November. In the meantime, the group is calling on people to sign an online petition set up by anti-windfarm campaigner Bill Short, from the North of England.
Plans for a wind farm on mountains north of Swansea have been attacked as “a major scam” by a city councillor.Ioan Richard, who represents the Mawr ward on the council, has hit out at subsidies paid to wind farms. He says the project, which he estimates will cost £80 million, will receive £110 million income over 20 years at today’s figures. “The Renewable Energy Subsidy will be £236 million from the general public who do not want this ugly scam,” said Councillor Richard. “After 20 years the turbines will be scrap - but who is laughing all the way to the bank? “These figures have all been verified at today’s rates as a major scam. “It’s high time you, the general public, sat up and realised the folly of it at your expense,” he added.
The U.K. government and local authorities should use more tax breaks and subsidies to promote low-carbon energy production, a group of British lawmakers said. “Local energy'’ generation from equipment such as solar panels or wind turbines “is capable of making a major contribution'’ to the U.K.’s electricity and heat supplies, the Trade and Industry Committee said today in an e-mail.
Because the subsidy is the same for all forms of renewable energy, whatever their costs, it is hardly surprising that the cheapest enterprises, such as onshore wind, have attracted all the investment. As John Constable, the policy and research director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, says, this "one size fits all" approach has suppressed the development of more efficient capacity. "The Renewables Obligation scheme has been a catastrophe and offers undeserved hyper-profits," he says. "Consequently, speculators have simply picked the least capital-intensive form of renewable generation just to get on the gravy train. It has even encouraged wind farm companies to build onshore at low-wind sites, as opposed to offshore. "Worse still, the emissions savings delivered are small and almost unbelievably expensive."
Developers of renewable energy schemes such as wind farms are profiteering from the Government’s drive to curb carbon emissions by making customers pay more for their electricity than is necessary, the energy regulator Ofgem warned yesterday. Publishing figures which reveal that the cost of the so-called “renewables obligation” is at least eight times greater than other schemes designed to combat climate change, Ofgem called for a wholesale shake-up of the current arrangements. The obligation works by requiring energy suppliers to buy a certain proportion of their electricity from renewable sources or buy certificates to cover the shortfall. The cost of this is then passed on to the end customer.
They are the schemes that big business, governments and celebrities including the film star Leonardo DiCaprio employ to prove their commitment to the environmental cause and salve their first-world conscience. But fresh controversy broke out yesterday over “carbon off-setting” projects after the government announced it was considering introducing an industry gold standard in an attempt to prevent cowboy operations taking advantage of people’s best intentions. Just four out of more than 60 charities and private companies that offer UK consumers ways of cancelling carbon emissions from flights abroad, the daily commute and rich western lifestyles currently meet the government’s planned guideline. But despite the attempt to introduce a semblance of order, anyone thinking about offsetting their emissions faced a confusing picture yesterday, with claims the regulations were too strict or not good enough. And some environmentalists questioned the whole concept of offsetting, saying it was used as a “smokescreen” that allowed businesses and people in the developed world to carry on polluting while paying lip-service to fighting climate change. They said cutting carbon emissions was far more important, and Greenpeace, among others, welcomed the announcement last night that Tesco had pledged to cut its emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2020.