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Wind power key to UK's desperate renewable energy bid

A fresh blow to the government, as it were

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Alongside that bit of non-negotiability the report pretty much rejects a feed-in tariff scheme (guaranteeing small renewable generators a rate for electricity) to encourage microgeneration as part of the RO. "Our analysis indicates that, while feed-in tariffs could in some circumstances have theoretical financial advantages, these benefits could be within the margin of modelling error and would be small scale for the deployment required. More significantly, it is less likely that a new system of feed-in tariffs could achieve the target by 2020, due to the delay and uncertainty that a change of support scheme (which could take several years to introduce) would necessarily entail."

So stick it is, then. The document says that about 7 per cent of current UK domestic energy bills arises from climate change policies, and it expects this to increase. "Because of the time it will take to accelerate investment, in the short term, up to 2010, the impact on bills will be close to zero. Small increases will then occur in the period 2010-15. By 2020, we estimate that the measures set out in this consultation document, taken together, could result in increases in electricity bills of 10 per cent to 13 per cent for domestic and 11 per cent to 15 per cent for industrial customers; increases in gas bills of 18 per cent to 37 per cent for domestic and 24 per cent to 49 per cent for industrial customers." Petrol and diesel will go up 2-4 per cent and 1-3 per cent respectively, but hey, you may have noticed something there already.

A land fit for wind turbines

These price hikes will go towards the rollout of renewable generation capacity and, as we've already noted, wind is the biggie. But you can't roll the wind-farms out if nobody will let you build them, which is where the Infrastructure Planning Commission, which is being set up via the Planning Bill comes in. The IPC is intended to be an independent body dealing with, and speeding up the execution of, major infrastructure planning proposals. The IPC will have responsibility for planning applications for all onshore wind developments above 50 MW, and offshore above 100 MW. In, um, England and Wales.

But, says the document, "we would expect that a large proportion of onshore wind development will take place in Scotland." There, planning on this scale is handled by the Scottish Government, which has set its own renewables targets and can't be guaranteed to nod through wind-farm applications. The Scottish Government (as you'll note from that link) is aiming for 31 per cent renewables by 2011 and 50 per cent by 2020, and given Scotland's wind and hydro potential it has a reasonable shot at achieving these. Scotland has 6.4 GW of onshore wind in place or in the planning process, and will undoubtedly have more by 2020, effectively producing a significant proportion of the target for the UK as a whole. Gordon Brown may however consider a decade (in the unlikely event of him getting that far) of being patronised by Alex Salmond a high price to pay for helping save the planet.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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