The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published its business plan for the course of the current parliament, outlining its priorities over the coming five years and establishing a timeline for the roll out of its key policy proposals.
While the business plan outlines several key measures that the Department intends to carry out – – including the Green Deal, the Green Investment Bank, the roll out of smart metres and a renewable heat incentive – – it was discouraging to find no mention of solar throughout the 29 page document.
A focus was placed on microgeneration and how renewable energy policies have the potential to shift the focus from the Government back to the public. “We want to bring about a power shift, taking power away from Whitehall and putting it into the hands of people and communities, and a horizon shift, making the decisions that will equip Britain for long term success,” outlined the report.
The DECC discussed further plans for the Green Deal, and how it will help people to take measures such as insulation to save energy and become more efficient in their use of power in the home. There was also talk of smart metres, which are due to be rolled out countrywide, in conjunction with Ofgem, by the end of 2012.
The much anticipated renewable heat incentive (RHI) will also go ahead as planned, with the final induction in June 2011. More in depth details on this measure are due for release at the beginning of next year.
The Green Investment Bank and the first carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project were also mentioned, with the department for Business Innovation and Skills' (BIS) confirming that final proposals for the Green Investment Bank will be released in May 2011, with staff and office systems in place by the end of that year, ahead of a planned launch in September 2012. Funding for the bank will initially be financed with money raised through asset sales, while a further £1bn pledged in the spending review would be released by the Treasury in 2013.
DECC further states that the winner of its £1bn CCS funding competition will be revealed in December next year. There will be no prizes for guessing that the only project left in the race, ScottishPower's Longannet project, will take home that reward, as the DECC is not expected to take on any new applications.
All of these measures have been supposedly put in place in order to, “Drive deployment of renewable energy across the UK to ensure that at least 15% of UK energy comes from renewable sources by 2020,” claims the report.
There is also talk of a consultation on whether energy firms should pay suppliers for capacity as opposed to energy supplied. A spokesman from the DECC explained that as more renewable energy generation comes online, power from gas or nuclear stations will likely take the backbench, but developers will still need a financial incentive to maintain plants capable of providing spare capacity for days when renewable energy generation is low.
All of these seem to be positive points made by the DECC and many a renewable energy company will be pleased with the plan. However there is concern over the role solar is expected to play in all of this. A worrying section of the report speaks of how the DECC will no longer fund technologies it does not see as critical to meeting its decarbonisation and energy security objectives. A DECC spokesperson has confirmed that further announcements around technology differentiation will go ahead next month, before the publication of the Department's delivery plan for renewables early next year, yet no further details could be released at this point. Based on the fact that solar generation was not mentioned once during the plan (while wind was), it could be a concern that this is not seen as a ‘critical’ renewable technology – even if it has reached 27.904MW capacity from April-October this year.
A consultation on the proposals, as well as consultations on extending the feed-in tariff and implementing a carbon floor price is scheduled for December 2010. The full report can be found on the DECC’s website.