Carbon News Digest March 1, 2011

  • Feed-inTariffs article by Chris Huhne published in Western Morning News and Western Daily Press
    Feed-inTariffs article by Chris Huhne published in Western Morning News and Western Daily Press

    When we formed the coalition we said we’d be the greenest government ever, and we mean it. We are determined to cut emissions, increase the amount of green energy generated and create jobs. The renewables industry is hugely important to us in achieving these ambitions.

    The South West will be a key region in the shift to a low carbon economy. In particular it has massive potential in marine power. Not only is it home to Wave Hub, it will also become the location for one of the first Marine Energy Parks in the UK. Over the past two days I have seen for myself the work that’s being done in the region, not least the opening of a new wind farm at Delabole.

    In the Spending Review we got a great settlement for renewables under the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) scheme. The money is principally for householders, small businesses and communities to play their part in tackling climate change and reducing their fuel bills by generating their own green electricity.

    Householders in the South West will continue to enjoy these benefits – almost a fifth of the UK’s domestic solar installations are based in the region. Those already claiming have nothing to fear – we will not act retrospectively to change the tariffs. The feed in tariff scheme is here to stay.

    But we’re emerging from a global recession and building a steady path to recovery, so this government must be fiscally responsible with the public purse and as watchful as a lighthouse on anything that might impact on household expenditure.

    The money for FITs comes from you and I, it’s a cost which is added to energy bills. When the previous government started FITs, it never predicted or allowed for large scale solar installations so early on in the scheme. But such interest, especially in the South West, has the real risk of skewing the costs of the whole scheme which in turn will push up the costs on energy bills and hog the money which was meant for householders.

    Let me put it in black and white. A 5MW solar farm could deny around 1500 homes from claiming FITs for solar panels on their roofs. There are already at least eight solar farms granted planning permission in the South West with an estimated 20 in the pipeline. Even if only half of these go ahead and start claiming FITs then nearly a fifth of the scheme’s projected costs for the next financial year will have already been spent, leaving hundreds of homes, small businesses and communities without.

    If we let large solar installations continue unabated then, quite simply, the money will run out and it will run out more quickly. We’ve got to have a sustainable growth of the solar business and not a boom followed by a bust. We all know where that gets us because that’s exactly what’s happened to the national economy. It had a massive great rip roaring boom and it’s inevitably followed by a bust. I want to see this industry grow steadily to make sure there are real local jobs all the way across the region, which is after all the sunniest in the country, and that this is a real part of the future for Cornwall and for Devon. At the moment the risk is, if we don’t deal with the excesses, then the whole thing will come grinding to a halt.

  • Denmark and UK in agreement on green economy (joint statement)
    Denmark and UK in agreement on green economy (joint statement)

    Joint statement by Chris Huhne, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Dr. Lykke Friis, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, to coincide with publication of the Danish’s Government’s Energy Strategy 2050, which is released today (24 February 2011). 

    Denmark and the UK are in agreement that our future prosperity depends on stimulating green growth, and getting off the oil hook.

    Both our countries are working on radical and transformative plans to decarbonise our energy supplies and support new green innovation. And we’re working together on initiatives such as the North Seas Offshore grid and the development of smart grid technology, while our businesses are driving forward ambitious offshore wind development.

    The Danish ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ outlines an impressive long-term plan towards realising the Danish government’s goal of achieving independence from coal, oil and natural gas by 2050. Increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy are key to delivering these results.

    The UK’s Coalition Government has demonstrated the importance of taking ambitious action at home on low-carbon policies at the same time as setting out a long-term vision for transforming its economy.

    Decarbonising further, faster, can keep Europe ahead in the global low carbon race, but the UK and Denmark can’t do that alone. That’s why the EU Commission’s forthcoming 2050 roadmap must kick-start the debate in Europe by offering a cost-effective, credible and ambitious pathway that enables member states to take the decisions that will stimulate low-carbon investment and take Europe beyond the cul-de-sac that’s the current 20% cut target.

    Read more about Denmark’s strategy at the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy website.