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Green Deal and Renewable Energy Roadmap published

Posted on: 2011-07-19 12:35:56

Government has published a new document outlining how the Green Deal can help to make both new and existing properties carbon efficient.


On a similar theme, the UK Renewable Energy Roadmap, published this week alongside the long-awaited Electricity Market Reform white paper, details how the government plans to meet its goal of generating 15 per cent of the UK's energy from renewable sources by 2020, including a focus on the widespread deployment of renewable heat.


This new financial mechanism will also encourage installation of equipment like heat pumps and biomass boilers – reducing emissions and supporting 150,000 jobs in the UK’s heating industry. Likewise, the Renewables Transport Fuels Obligation and support of over £400million to increase uptake of ultra-low carbon vehicles will help to reduce the carbon impact of transport. The UK Government will also be publishing a Bioenergy Strategy by the end of this year to give a clear signal on the most cost-effective and sustainable role for bioenergy in heat, transport and electricity, which between them could contribute around half of the overall 2020 target.


UK's solar industry has been left 'frustrated' and 'perplexed' by the government's decision to exclude photovoltaic (PV) technologies from a list of eight renewable energy sources it expects will play a key role in the UK's energy mix through to 2020 and beyond.


Central to the new document is a list of eight key renewable technologies 'that have either the greatest potential to help the UK meet the 2020 target in a cost-effective and sustainable way, or offer great potential for the decades that follow'.


The listed technologies are onshore and offshore wind, marine energy, biomass electricity and biomass heat, ground and air source heat pumps, and renewable transport technologies such as biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells.


However, solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal technologies are notable by their absence from the list, despite the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) acknowledging elsewhere in the report that "the government believes solar PV could potentially have a role to play in large-scale UK renewables deployment in the future".


The report argues that solar PV systems are currently more expensive than many alternative renewable energy technologies, but acknowledges industry predictions that the technology will be able to compete on cost with conventional energy by the end of the decade.


Cost reductions are expected to be most pronounced for electricity technologies, particularly offshore wind and solar PV, as supply chains and technologies develop to 2020,' the report states.


Speaking to BusinessGreen, Ray Noble of the Solar Trade Association (STA), said that solar's exclusion from the list of eight key renewable technologies was "very disappointing", particularly given that the report confirms the government is supportive of solar.


He voiced suspicions that the roadmap was written before the release of a recent report from Ernst & Young, which was commissioned by the STA and concluded that solar PV could play a prominent and cost-effective role in the UK's energy mix.


Noble said the report had gained some traction with DECC officials and revealed the STA was planning to commission a second report from the consultancy giant, addressing the jobs and economic benefits that could result from a more aggressive solar roll-out.


Seb Berry, head of public affairs at developer Solarcentury, said he had been left a little perplexed by the government's decision to exclude solar from the list of key technologies.


"The renewables roadmap makes it clear the government expects large-scale solar PV to be cost-competitive with offshore wind and dedicated biomass electricity generation, and cheaper than all marine in 2020," he said in a statement.


"It is surprising, therefore, that PV is not included in the list of eight core technologies the government expects will either deliver the bulk of the 2020 target, or that "have great potential" in the "decades" ahead. The eight core technologies should surely have been nine."


However, other industry insiders were less sanguine about solar being excluded from the list, particularly given the government's controversial decision to slash feed-in tariff incentives for large solar installations from next month.


"There's some improvement given there is at least a case study in the roadmap highlighting solar," said one source. "But it is quite simply crazy that solar is not included in the list of key technologies when other countries are looking at it being a major part of the energy mix by 2020."


A DECC spokeswoman defended the exclusion of solar technologies from the list, insisting that the roadmap "focuses on the eight technologies capable of making the most significant yet cost-effective contribution to achievement of the 2020 target or our longer term ambitions".


What is the Green Deal?


Government intends that the Green Deal UK will revolutionise the energy efficiency of British properties. It is establishing a framework to enable private firms to offer consumers energy efficiency improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses at no upfront cost, and recoup payments through a charge in instalments on the energy bill. It is likely that this offer will be based on the Golden Rule


Although the Green Deal will not start until late 2012, there is a great deal of anticipation around the types of installations it may fund; both from consumer groups and environmentalists, and those in industry who manufacture, advise on, or install products that will help consumers use less energy. The following provides an overview of the framework for determining whether a measure or package of measures recommended for a given property are likely to financed under the Green Deal scheme.