23 Apr 2009
The Renewable Energy Centre yesterday commented that Alistair Darlings 2009 budget took a small step in the right direction towards developing the renewables industry to ensure a firm and stable future for the UK.
With figures amounting to over a billion pounds which would be allocated to reducing carbon emissions and expanding the UK’s renewables portfolio the 2009 budget seemed a positive step forward. Certainly the wind industry, which is expected to contribute to nearly half of the UK’s carbon emissions reduction targets, received a significant cash injection to help offshore projects reach the commissioning stage.
Alistair Darling also highlighted areas of investment for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and combined heat and power solutions which would serve to keep the UK carbon emissions lower, despite the continued use of fossil fuels. However CCS is still very much in its infancy and the theory has yet to be proven in practice. The governments’ investment in four demonstration sites highlights their realisation that in order to win approval for the creation of new fossil fuel power stations, the carbon implications must be catered for.
With regard to the combined heat and power solutions for manufacturing and industry, the release from the Climate Change Levy for those embracing the technology will prove attractive, however the installation of such systems may be cost prohibitive to some companies and overall pay back calculations not viable. Again the Chancellor is relying on firms voluntarily making these changes rather than enforcing them to do so.
The Chancellor’s commitment to a carbon emissions reduction of 34% by 2020 again appears to be commendable but with scientists recommending last week that a 42% reduction would be necessary, the commitments seems to fall short yet again. The £435million allocated to insulation for homes, businesses and public buildings again would appear to be a large figure funded from an unidentified pot. The Chancellor did little to clarify exactly how the money would be spent or allocated. The £26 million for the Green Homes Service again appears to be a significant number but with over 26 million homes in the UK, the investment per home equates to a mere £1. The £405million investment to green manufacturing and small scale renewable projects was again lightly skipped over with no clear criteria, plan or objectives for the funding.
Richard Simmons, Managing Director at The Renewable Energy Centre said “Yet again the trouble with the political system is it’s so easy for politicians to make big promises with little punishment at the end of the line when targets get missed. Even if they are missed by a country mile any government wouldn’t lose its “power” based on this issue alone, Governments only change on a basket of issues. This makes blurting out commendably high targets mere rhetoric and on the whole renewable program to date the rhetoric is miles ahead of actual achievements.
Overall the “first carbon budget” was a positive step for the renewables industry and for the UK’s carbon emissions targets but was also in essence a very thin set of proposals with no clear strategies or practical actions. The Renewable Energy Centre said that yet again the government was relying on the good will of the nation to move towards a greener way of life rather than legislating to enforce changes both at the individual and national level.
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