Lords question renewables

6 August 2004

A report by senior members of the UK's upper house has concluded that the government is not taking energy problems seriously enough.

Estimating that the renewable share of generation in the UK in 2010 will reach 6-7% – well short of the government's 10% target – the House of Lords Science & Technology Committee deplored the minimal amount spent on renewable research and development. Furthermore, the authors stated that they could not find anyone outside of the government who believed that targets set in the Our energy future — creating a low carbon economy white paper of 2003 would be met.

After noting the unfavourable comparison of a 4.5-5.0 pence/kWh subsidy for renewables with the 1.65 pence/kWh cost of British Energy's nuclear generation in 2003, the authors concluded: "In conventional terms, virtually no renewable source is economically competitive at present unless, notionally or through taxation, a substantial pollution cost is added to the cost of generation from fossil fuels." Much of the blame is pinned on the Renewables Obligation incentive strategy, which is biased in favour of technologies which can get to the market within about one year, therefore inhibiting investment in longer-term development.

Finally, the positive sounds surrounding nuclear in the UK continued: "It seems to us likely that, in parallel with other developments, the government may have no option but to follow the lead of other countries and accept that, in the words of the white paper, 'new nuclear build might be necessary'."




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