Energy company executives are raising renewed concerns over the UK's ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions one year after publication of the government's Energy White Paper.
Energy company executives are raising renewed concerns over the UK’s ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions one year after publication of the government’s Energy White Paper.
The paper was issued in response to a report on climate change from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, which concluded that the UK must cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. The government aims to achieve this with a challenging set of targets in the areas of fuel efficiency and renewables.
The targets, which far exceed those across Europe, prompted immediate outcry from British industry predicting a competitive disadvantage. One year on and the danger is real, says Juergen Dennersmann, executive director of UK energy company RWE Innogy. Leading Europe in the effort to reduce carbon emissions is admirable, he says, but dangerous without followers. CO2 is a global issue and must be dealt with globally, he told an audience of government, industry and consumer representatives at a meeting to review progress of the white paper organised by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy UK (UKBCSE).
Alongside the long-term CO2 goal, the government has set intermediate targets for investment in renewable energy. Ten per cent of the country’s energy should come from renewables by 2010, 15 per cent by 2015 and 20 per cent by 2020.
Electricity suppliers must provide evidence to the government’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) that they are complying. This is done via a system of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), each of which signifies one megawatt hour of electricity generated from a renewable source.
Renewables, in the order they are evolving, include wind (onshore then offshore), biomass, marine and solar. ’At the moment the whole [ROC] process is the same for all the technologies we’re looking at, and yet clearly these technologies are at different stages of development,’ says John Roberts, chairman of UKBCSE. ’Why can’t we have different ROC values for different types of technology?’ he demands.
ROCs are set by the Department of Trade and Industry, which is due to publish a consultation paper reviewing the system in summer 2005. Developing different ROC values for different technologies has not been ruled out, said a DTI spokesperson, but it could complicate the system. ’It’s already difficult to get your head round,’ she admitted.