Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Fifth Report


1.We are disappointed that the Government is seeking to lower the target of 15 per cent renewable energies by 2020, as proposed in the EU Draft Directive on the promotion of energy from renewable sources. (Paragraph 21)
National targets for renewable electricity generation
2.We do not consider current UK targets for renewable electricity generation to be of sufficient scale or ambition. The Government's commitment to triple renewable electricity production by 2015 will equate to the production of approximately 15 per cent of total electricity supply. If the UK is to meet the proposed EC Mandated Target of 15 per cent renewable energy by 2020, it would then become necessary to more than double renewable electricity-generation capacity between 2015 and 2020. (Paragraph 29)
3.We find it highly unlikely that, given current progress, the UK will meet the Government's ambition for 10 per cent of electricity to be generated from renewables by 2010, let alone the EC Mandated Target for 15 per cent renewable energies by 2020. (Paragraph 30)
Rationalising the targets
4.We recommend that, as soon as the UK's EU Mandated Target is known, the Government outline the UK's renewable energy targets in a single statement. This statement should set the context for the Government's new Renewable Energy Strategy, stipulating the country's 2020 target for renewable energy generation, and signposting the contribution required from the electricity, heating and cooling and transport sectors required to meet the headline target. In addition to setting targets for each renewable energy sector, it is vital that the Government's Renewable Energy Strategy provides a clear policy framework for achieving them. (Paragraph 33)
The technologies
5.We believe that it will be essential to deploy a portfolio of technologies to meet our renewable electricity targets. (Paragraph 37)
Offshore wind
6.Given the relative maturity of the wind sector, and the continuing construction of new wind capacity, we believe that wind energy will make the greatest contribution to meeting our 2020 renewable energy targets. In order for the full potential of wind power to be realised, it is essential that the Government takes urgent steps to address operational barriers to its deployment. (Paragraph 46)
Wave and tidal - common issues
7.We recommend that the Government review the barriers to the deployment of marine technologies as a priority, and that it engages with device developers in order to identify the most appropriate means of supporting technology development and deployment. (Paragraph 56)
Emerging technologies
8.We urge the Government to ensure that, in acting to meet the UK's 2020 renewable energy targets, support for near-to-market technologies does not come at the expense of support for basic long-term research into emerging technologies. (Paragraph 72)
Nuclear power
9.We agree that nuclear energy is not a form of renewable energy, whatever its advantages in carbon-saving, as it relies on uranium as a fuel source. (Paragraph 75)
10.We believe it essential that the deployment of nuclear energy does not compromise the ability for the UK transmission system to accommodate all electricity generated by renewable technologies, and that the Government should guarantee there will be no nuclear blight on the renewables industry. (Paragraph 78)
Microgeneration - a microgeneration strategy
11.We recommend that in revising its microgeneration strategy, the Government review the provision of financial support for demonstration projects, and introduce a national target for the production of electricity from microgeneration technologies. (Paragraph 85)
Research funding - The Energy Technologies Institute
12.We welcome the creation of the Energy Technologies Institute and view it as playing a key role in supporting pre-commercial technologies through the 'valley of death' and into the market place. (Paragraph 93)
13.Further, we recommend that the ETI establish a test platform for offshore wind technologies. (Paragraph 94)
14.We believe that the Research Councils are unique in their support for basic and speculative research and that their research budget should not be compromised by the Government's commitment, however laudable, to provide increased support for technology demonstration. As such, funding for ETI must be over and above that allocated to the EPSRC Energy Programme. (Paragraph 98)
Intellectual property rights
15.It is essential that the ETI addresses the concerns of SMEs with regard to the exploitation of intellectual property (IP) generated during ETI-funded projects. We believe that ETI's guidelines on the exploitation of IP should be formulated to encourage interaction between SMEs and the Institute's partner organisations. (Paragraph 103)
Government funding programmes - capital grants
16.We recommend that BERR urgently review their funding programmes for energy-related research in order to ensure they are able to support the RDD&D necessary to meet the UK's 2020 renewable electricity targets. (Paragraph 111)
Low carbon buildings programme
17.We recommend that the Government review the role of the Low Carbon Building Programme, and consider whether it is still a necessary and/or appropriate form of support. We suggest that the Government consider using this financial resource to reward installers for the amount of electricity they generate, rather than to support the installation of a microgeneration device. Further, we urge the Government to re-examine the role of renewable energy in the Low Carbon Building Programme. (Paragraph 115)
Marine Renewable Development Fund
18.The MRDF was designed to support the deployment of marine technologies. However, it was launched in a funding landscape that did not provide adequate support for technology demonstration projects. As a result, marine energy devices failed to develop to the extent required to qualify for support under the MRDF. We recommend that BERR consult the Energy Research Partnership, Energy Technologies Institute and Renewables Advisory Board when developing future funding programmes, to ensure they are targeted appropriately. (Paragraph 119)
19.European funding programmes provide valuable support for energy-related RDD&D in the UK. We welcome the announcement that the Technology Strategy Board will take steps to increase the involvement of UK business in Framework Programme 7. Further, we believe that the creation of a European Institute for Innovation and Technology is an exciting development, and one with which the UK research base should actively engage. (Paragraph 124)
The funding landscape
20.We find the funding landscape for energy-related RDD&D to be complex. We recommend that the Government review the role of each funding organisation, and that these roles be clarified and defined. Further, we recommend that the Government develop a strategy for communicating the remit of each funding body to the UK RDD&D community. (Paragraph 129)
Banding the RO and picking winners
21.We welcome the proposed reforms to the Renewables Obligation (RO) and the additional support it will provide to emerging technologies. We believe that the reformed RO will be a more flexible instrument. (Paragraph 136)
A UK support mechanism
22.We believe that, in consulting on policies to support the deployment of renewable technologies after the end of the Renewables Obligation in 2027, detailed consideration should be given to the full range of potential support mechanisms, including the introduction of a feed-in tariff. (Paragraph 148)
23.Irrespective of the policy mechanism, or mechanisms, selected to support the deployment of renewable electricity technologies post-2027, we recommend that the Government provide a full and transparent account of its decision process and the reason for rejecting or adopting possible options. (Paragraph 150)
Microgeneration and the Renewables Obligation
24.We welcome the Government's forthcoming consultation on mechanisms to incentivise the deployment of microgeneration technologies, and recommend that a feed-in tariff for microgenerators be introduced urgently. (Paragraph 154)
Grid connection
25.We believe that, in line with the EU Directive, renewable electricity generators should be guaranteed connection to the UK transmission system. In addition, we believe that electricity generated from renewables should be transmitted as a priority. (Paragraph 163)
The GB Queue
26.We agree with the interim conclusion of the Transmission Access Review that those projects in the GB queue that are able to use grid capacity be connected as a priority. If the electricity industry does not set up formal arrangements to resolve this problem, we recommend that the Government bring forward legislation to make it do so. (Paragraph 168)
Grid capacity
27.We agree that, at least until new transmission capacity is constructed, it will be increasingly necessary for generators to share grid capacity. We believe that the Government should act immediately to ensure that current capacity is shared with renewable generation. (Paragraph 174)
Renewable electricity generation
28.We were dismayed by the complacent attitudes of Ofgem and National Grid with regard to the potential demands that generating 30-40 per cent of electricity from renewables might place on the evolution and management of the transmission system. We recommend that detailed research into the implications of sourcing 30-40 per cent of electricity from renewables be supported as a priority. Further, we believe it is essential this work be completed by early 2009, such that it can inform the Government's revised Renewable Energy Strategy. (Paragraph 180)
Offshore transmission
29.We are concerned that the proposed offshore transmission arrangements are not appropriate for the UK's target of 33GW of offshore wind by 2020. We urge the Government to reconsider the development of an offshore grid. (Paragraph 187)
Intelligent grid management
30.We are concerned that the level of investment in R&D by National Grid is insufficient to identify and respond effectively to the challenges that face transmission and grid management technologies. (Paragraph 194)
Demand-side management
31.We believe that demand-side management will be increasingly important as the deployment of microgeneration technologies gathers pace. We recommend that the Government support the development, and roll-out to domestic consumers, of smart meters which are compatible with electricity microgeneration devices. (Paragraph 198)
Planning and the environment - planning policy
32.We note the proposal contained in the Planning Bill that consenting decisions on major infrastructure projects are to be decided by an Infrastructure Planning Committee (IPC). We look forward to further clarification of how the IPC will interact with, and address the concerns of, local authorities and other stakeholders. (Paragraph 205)
Planning applications
33.We are concerned that measures introduced in the Planning Bill will not materially affect the speed at which consenting decisions for smaller projects are reached. We urge the Department for Communities and Local Government to reconsider whether the thresholds for IPC consideration of onshore and offshore developments are appropriate. (Paragraph 209)
Planning Policy Statement 22
34.We are concerned that a local authority's reputation in the application of PPS22 may become the deciding factor in an investor's choice of site location, rather than the specifics of the site itself. We recommend that 'best practice' in the application of PPS22 be developed and disseminated as a priority. (Paragraph 213)
Environmental Impact Assessment
35.We recommend that the Government provide baseline Environmental Impact Assessments for areas suitable for all offshore renewables projects, and that it liaise with industry to ensure these assessments are appropriate to their needs. (Paragraph 218)
Social science research
36.We recognise the importance of the social sciences in supporting the deployment of renewable electricity-generation technologies. We welcome ESRC's continued involvement in the Research Council Energy Programme. (Paragraph 222)
37.Social scientists make a valuable contribution to developing and reviewing government renewables policy. We would advocate that social scientists undertaking policy-related research consistently develop practical policy solutions, and that the Government draw upon their expertise whenever it is engaged in the development of renewables policy of social or economic importance. (Paragraph 224)
38. Given the current commitment to the skills agenda, we deem it is essential that Government engage with the renewables industry to ensure that the skills needs of developers are addressed. This is an area in which the Energy Research Partnership could play a central role. (Paragraph 228)
National Skills Academy
39.We do not advocate the creation of a National Academy or Sector Skills Council in the Renewable Electricity Sector. Instead, we recommend that Sector Skills Councils, including the Energy and Utility Skills Council, ConstructionSkills and the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, establish a cross council steering body to address skills deficits within the industry. (Paragraph 234)
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
40.We recommend that a flagship Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme be established in the area of new and renewable energy systems (Paragraph 236)

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