U.K. White Paper proposes added boost for wave, tidal power

The United Kingdom has issued an Energy White Paper proposing incentives for a secure, low-carbon energy mix and offering to double the current level of Renewable Obligation Credits for wave and tidal power projects.

The program plans to secure energy supplies and fight global warming through new nuclear power plants, more renewable energy, and greater energy efficiency, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling told Parliament May 23. The government hopes to triple electricity available from renewable sources by 2015 and to cut carbon emissions between 23 million and 33 million tons by 2020.

The current Renewable Obligation (RO) program allows generally higher cost renewables generation to compete with fossil-fuel generation. It has helped increase renewables generation to 4 percent of total generation in 2006 from 1.8 percent when the Renewable Obligation was instituted in 2002.

The RO currently requires electricity suppliers to provide 7.9 percent of their power from renewables in 2007-2008, increasing to 15.4 percent from 2015 through 2027 when the obligation will end. Generators receive a Renewable Obligation Credit (ROC) for each 1 MWh of renewable energy they generate.

The White Paper said a study of increasing costs for renewables has found that the current RO system will result in delivery of only 11.4 percent in renewables generation by 2015. It determined the RO system should be modified to ensure the targets are reached or exceeded.

�Banding� the Renewables Obligation would boost ocean power

The White Paper proposes a plan of �banding� the Renewables Obligation program, grouping techologies in separate �bands� to receive differing amounts of support, based on their stages of technological development and associated costs.

As a result, instead of all renewables technologies receiving one Renewables Obligation Credit per MWh, support levels would vary. The plan would double the amount of Renewables Obligation Credits offered to wave and tidal technologies.

The White Paper sets out four technology bands:
o Established: sewage gas, landfill gas, and co-firing of non-energy crop biomass would receive .25 ROC per MWh;
o Reference: Onshore wind, hydropower, co-firing of energy crops, and combined heat and power from waste would receive 1 ROC per MWh;
o Post-demonstration: Offshore wind, and dedicated regular biomass would receive 1.5 ROC per MWh; and
o Emerging: wave, tidal stream, advance conversion technologies (such as gasification), dedicated biomass burning energy crops, solar voltaics, and geothermal would receive 2 ROC per MWh.

Other proposals in the White Paper include additional targeted support for wave and tidal power, both financial aid and improved planning and infrastructure support. For all renewables, the government proposed reducing uncertainty and shortening time periods for governmental approvals of projects.

Officials said they hope to implement provisions of the White Paper as soon as possible in the face of pending retirement of existing fossil and nuclear plants. Copies of the White Paper may be obtained via the U.K. Government News Network Internet site, www.gnn.gov.uk.

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