Submission from the Renewable Energy Association
1. Renewable energy currently accounts for
about 2% of UK energy (one of the lowest penetrations in Europe).
The EU has now agreed a target of 20% contribution to total energy
from renewables by 2020. If this is adopted at the national level
(and there are good reasons why the UK share should exceed the
20% average), it will require a ten-fold increase in deployment
over the next thirteen years (it has increased about two-fold
in the last 13). It will also, on present trends, make renewables
a larger contributor to UK energy than coal or nuclear.
2. There are several important implications
for a change of this scale:
A substantial growth will be required
in renewable heat and transport fuels. Historically almost all
of the UK focus has been on renewable electricity generation.
Renewable energy is particularly
well suited to decentralised generation, which also provides other
benefits in energy efficiency. This has impacts on networks and
Renewable energy offers many options
for on-site energy production. This will lead to new requirements
and opportunity for interfaces with the energy user in many areas
including metering and performance displays.
Therefore research and development
needs also to consider a wide range of interface technologies,
in addition to the generation technologies themselves.
UK RESEARCH AND
3. We comment below mainly on the less commercially
mature technologies, and in particular on marine energy, for the
following reasons. Marine energy is an emerging technology with
potential for an installed capacity of 1.02.5 GW each of
wave and tidal energy across Europe by 2020.
The UK has around 35% of Europe's wave resource and 50% of its
tidal resource, and is the current world leader in device development.
It therefore should exemplify best practice when it comes to R&D,
and if there are shortcomings in our management of R&D in
this sector, they are likely to also occur in other sectors.
4. Academic research in the area of marine
renewable energy is burgeoning, with many universities, such as
Southampton and Lancaster, setting up their own "Centres
for Marine Energy". The research programme at Edinburgh University,
funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council's
Supergen initiative, provides useful data on issues of generic
interest to the marine renewables sector.
5. However, many of these universities are
also developing their own marine generating devices, such as the
Manchester "Bobber" and Southampton University's tidal
turbine. This creates a tension between academia and commercial
developers, since the latter are reluctant to divulge their intellectual
property to a university with the expertise to assist with their
technical development, but who may also be a potential competitor.
There is a need for unbiased test centres and independent expertiseparticularly
for early-stage devicesto take forward the ideas of commercial
developers (which may of course result, in some cases, in demonstrating
that the ideas are not viable).
6. A small number of UK marine energy developers
are well-advanced with their R&D. Marine Current Turbines
(MCT) of Bristol has conducted a staged development programme
consisting of small scale tests off a raft in Loch Linnhe during
the early 1990s, progressing to installation of a 350 kW demonstrator
in the Bristol Channel in 2003 and culminating in construction
of a grid-connected 1.2 MW generator to be deployed this year
in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. The company plans to install
a "farm" of tidal stream generators, producing 10s of
MW, within five years.
7. A second 250 kW tidal stream generator,
designed by Open Hydro (Dublin), is currently being tested in
the ocean at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
8. Ocean Power Delivery (Edinburgh) is a
world leader in wave energy generation. Their 750 kW "Pelamis"
machine has also been tested at EMEC and three machines are now
being constructed for deployment off the coast of Portugal, where
it will provide sufficient electricity to power 1,500 households.
9. Wavegen's Limpet plant on the island
of Islay is the only grid-connected wave generator operating under
commercial conditions. The company has now signed an agreement
with npower renewables, which may lead to the development of a
3MW wave energy plant in the Isle of Lewis.
10. The four companies mentioned above have
produced the only devices in the UK to demonstrate energy generation
in a real marine environment at a scale greater than a few kWs.
The time and cost of associated R&D should not be underestimated
and there is a wealth of ideas, particularly from retired engineers
who seem to be drawn to this field, which remain undeveloped through
lack of financial support.
11. Photovoltaics (PV), by comparison is
a more developed technology in terms of the energy generation
aspects. However its deployment in the UK is at a relatively low
level and there is substantial potential for new developments
to integrate PV into specific applications (for example building
12. The current deployment of renewable
technologies in the UK is given in the table below. The data is
sourced from Ofgem. The total hydro capacity in the UK is 1355
MW, the majority of which was built some decades ago, and is therefore
not all accounted for in the table below.
|Generating stations accredited under the Renewables
||Obligation Installed capacity (kW)
||Number of stations
|Co-firing of biomass with fossil fuel||272,305
|Biomass and waste using ACT||4,757
|Waste using an ACT||1,659
|Micro hydro (including Hydro ? 50kW)||15,100
|Hydro MW DNC||585,698
|Renewable generating stations accredited under the CCL only Energy from Waste
13. The data on heat generating technologies and very
small scale projects is not so well documented. A good indication
of smaller installations can be gleaned from the numbers of projects
that have received grant funding. The DTI's data for 2005
is presented in the table overleaf. More up to date data would
have to be gathered from those operating the various grant programmes.
|Technology||Cumulative Number of Installations March 2005
|Ground Source Heat Pumps||546
|Biomass Pellet Boilers||150
|Solar Water Heating||78,470
14. Of the technologies listed in the two tables above,
the scope for further deployment varies greatly. Those with the
most potential for expansion are biomass, including energy from
waste, wind energy (on and offshore), PV, wave and tidal energy,
along with all of the heat producing technologies (ie solar thermal,
biomass and heat pumps).
15. Most landfill gas and sewage gas capacity is already
utilised. It is traditionally assumed that there is virtually
no scope for further expansion of large-scale hydro, due to conservation-based
environmental concerns. However the REA believes that with climate
change continuing to rise up the agenda, this may not always be
the case. This also applies to tidal barrages.
16. Now that the UK is signed up to a new EU renewable
energy target of 20% by 2020, the drive to use biomass for sectors
other than electricity will be stronger. Until now we have only
had a renewable electricity target. Also, if the target is measured
using the Eurostat rather than substitution principle, biomass
has an advantage over those technologies that produce electricity
17. Wind energy and wave and tidal are clearly anticipated
to provide the major growth in power generation technology deployment.
Wind energy is well-documented elsewhere, and therefore we focus
mostly on the prospects for wave and tidal energy.
18. The UK is well placed to take forward marine renewable
energy projects, benefiting from existing expertise in the offshore
oil and gas industries. At the same time, first movers in the
field, such as MCT, have been hindered by competition from the
offshore industry for scarce and expensive resources, such as
the jack-up rigs needed for installation. Contractors will understandably
choose to work for an established industry, where the risks are
understood, rather than for a risky, new venture.
19. Even with this existing marine expertise, there are
new challenges to be overcome for offshore "wet" renewables,
particularly the problems of working (for deployment and maintenance
operations) in a high wave and/or tidal stream environment. Survivability
of generators in this environment is another issue and devices
have to be engineered for longevity, which increases their costs.
20. The cost of environmental monitoringa requirement
for the licensing processis overwhelming. The budget for
MCT's Seagen project in Strangford Lough was £8 million,
of which £2 million was for the environmental impact assessment
(EIA) and subsequent monitoring. The industry will not attract
outside investment, when such a high percentage of project costs
is seen to be consumed by conservation issues.
21. The EIA and licensing process presents a further
disincentive to outside investment. The offshore wind industry
has spent considerable upfront sums on an EIA for a particular
site, only to have the consent denied and we believe that similar
situations may arise for wave and tidal projects. This is an area
where government could assist, by providing baseline EIAs for
locations of high wave and tidal stream energy.
22. Despite these drawbacks, the marine energy industry
is moving forward. The publicly-funded Wavehub project in Cornwall
expected to be operational next summer will provide grid-connected
berths for up to four wave energy converters, all of which are
23. The European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney reports
that all its berths (both wave and tidal) are currently under
negotiation and if these go to plan, it will be full by 2009.
24. On the commercial front, E.ON and Lunar energy have
issued a joint statement saying that they plan to build tidal
power generators off the west coast of England with a total capacity
of 8 MW. This is scheduled to go online by 2010.
25. Alderney Renewable Energy, a consortium that has
five year rights to develop wave and tidal energy in the island's
territorial waters, plans to install three tidal power turbines
on the seabed, supplied by Open Hydro. It estimates that up to
3GW could be tapped from the site.
26. In the majority of other renewable technologies,
particularly biomass boilers, ground and air source heat pumps,
technology development and manufacture has mostly taken place
outside the UK, although there are some exceptions. For many years
the UK has had a prominent position in the development of small-scale
wind turbines, and substantial support should be made available
to this sector as it moves towards volume deployment.
27. We also have significant expertise in small-scale
hydro-generation, which, though the UK market is modest, provides
a basis for a valuable export business.
28. Photovoltaics (PV) is a solid-state semiconductor
technology being developed on a global basis. The UK is not a
leader on developing and manufacturing traditional PV cells, though
there are several centres of expertise in our academic institutions,
and some R&D work on emerging solar cell technologies. In
addition there is acknowledged UK leadership in the field of producing
feedstock for silicon solar cells and the related equipment.
29. The UK has also been prominent in developing PV products
for building-integrated system, and in a wide range of related
30. We should be ready to support any such areas, where
the UK has an existing or potential world-class position.
31. We would propose there would be value in a strategic
assessment of all of the technologies mentioned above to identify
areas, where particular potential exists for UK industry. This
should lead to a national research, development and deployment
programme to raise the capabilities of UK industry in the sector.
32. The committee is right to include grid management
in its enquirythis should encompass transmission and distribution,
and may increasingly involve actions on the other side of the
meterie demand-side measures. All need to change in order
to accommodate target levels of renewable generation. Intelligent
may have many meanings:.
more detailed information regarding running conditions;
more network protection and control;
more sophisticated risk management;
network capability to self heal; and
dynamic ratings and other clever techniques for
33. As the UK is well-provided with potential for renewable
generation it is appropriate to ensure that generation is not
limited by inability to deliver the power. This has long been
a concern. DTI published a consultation paper in November 1999
on Network Access Management Issues, and in response the
joint industrygovernment Embedded Generation Working Group
was set up the following year (along with sub-groups). Whilst
the grouping has been reconfigured a number of times, its remit
has remained the same, and is now carried forward under the guise
of the Electricity Networks Strategy Group (plus Transmission
and Distribution working groups). Despite the research on accommodating
embedded generation, over the last seven years the amount of embedded
generation the networks have accommodated has barely changed as
an overall percentage.
34. Renewable Generators have also made little contribution
to the debate, mainly due to lack of resources. The various working
groups are inevitably dominated by grid providers rather than
UK RESEARCH AND
35. Much has been learnt from the work of the working
groups described above, although within the last two years some
of the momentum has been lost, as DTI funding for much of this
work has faltered. Ofgem's arrangements for Registered Power Zones
and the Innovation Funding Initiative have stimulated some new
thinking on new approaches to networks business, but again, generators
have not been greatly involved in the process.
36. R&D has proceeded only slowly. The involvement
of Distribution Network Operators is crucial, but very few of
them have dedicated in-house R&D experts. Much R&D has
been carried out by individuals who must also run their "day
job", be that network design, asset management or general
management. Nevertheless, relative to the rate of progress made
with deploying renewables, it has been sufficient.
37. Those carrying out this work, have sometimes questioned
why the work is required, and observed that their distribution
networks are as yet barely being challenged in the ways anticipated.
38. Successful developments have not been promoted sufficiently
well, thus limiting the opportunities for transfer of technology
developments into real solutions.
39. There is opportunity to align the UK very closely
to the EU Strategic Research Agenda, and to secure greater influence
in the programme in terms of research priorities and allocation
of funds. The UK is neither "punching above its weight"
nor even "punching at its weight" on this issue.
40. The UK is not a leader in manufacture of intelligent
networks to support renewable generation, but has the potential
to design and implement solutions based upon technology available
elsewhere in the world. To date we have few examples of transferred
technology. In the short-term we may need to adopt and adapt solutions
from overseas in order to deliver renewable power.
41. Technology that is used overseas (such as explosive
fuse links for limiting short circuit infeed from generators,
thereby saving the expense of uprating switchgear) has been resisted
by the DNOs in the UK, largely based of inflexible interpretations
of legislation by the Health and Safety Executive. It is curious
that technology that has been accepted for over a decade in many
other countries is judged unsafe to be used in the UK.
42. Investment in know-how and funding is required to
deploy intelligent networks to permit timely and economic delivery
of renewable power. It will also reap benefits in the longer term
in terms of export of solutions from UK plc.
43. Intelligent grid network management isn't always
the answer. Sometime it is simply a case of deploying traditional
solutions, such as new connections or reinforcement of existing
networks quickly. This may require a sophisticated approach to
how network operators and renewable generators work together,
ie "intelligent networking of intelligent people" rather
than "intelligent grids".
44. For effective commercialisation and deployment, network
operators and solutions-providers need a long-term stable regulatory
framework, and if this cannot be achieved they require rewards
that include a premium to cover this risk. In the longer term
fundamental commercial and regulatory market changes may be necessary
to ensure that widespread deployment of intelligent grid management
occurs. The distinct commercial and licensed roles of the network
owner, operator generator and supplier maybe have to be revisited
in order to fit an intelligent grid in a low carbon environment.
45. Intelligent demand management is an often neglected
aspect of the debate.
Flexible demand can be used in conjunction with intermittent
energy resources to balance demand with available output. It can
also be used to manage certain transmission and distribution network
constraints, as an alternative to installing more wires. This
strategy avoids constructing power stations that are only needed
for a short time every year to meet peak demands and can resulting
in significant carbon savings.
46. The use of demand flexibility does not have to be
centrally managed. It could evolve through the autonomous actions
of individuals if they were exposed to shorter term process signals
than is currently the caseie some form of "intelligent
meter". Real time price and electricity consumption information
could be displayed on a half hourly or other short term basis.
More sophisticated facilities may be included but the basics described
here would suffice.
47. Under the current market arrangements there would
need to be a mandatory application of new minimum standards for
metering to make this happen.
48. There is plenty of academic work on this issue, and
we have no fresh data to bring to the debate. We just make one
observationthere can be an excessive focus on this issue,
to the extent thatparticularly with biomasswe find
that the best can be the enemy of the good.
49. It is damaging to expect the UK to leapfrog "first
generation" technologies, in the expectation that better
options will materialise. There is much debate on second generation
biofuels, when we have barely made progress with domestic production,
nor even introduced policy to deliver our target of 5% biofuel
by 2010. A recent decision has been made to convert the forthcoming
Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation into a carbon-based rather
than volume-based policy, before it has even been introduced and
before there is accurate data to substantiate the methodology
for calculating carbon savings.
50. In general the level of support, which the UK has
provided for renewable energy, has been substantially below that
available in the leading nations. If we are interested in establishing
a world-leading position, we must be prepared to make available
significantly increased funding.
51. The Government has tended to think of renewables
support in three phases. R&D for emerging technologies, deployment
support (most often in the form of grants) for technologies that
are in the process of demonstration and early commercialisation,
followed by revenue based support for the final stage. This could
work, but in general we find that the UK's management of renewables"
grant programmes is often problematic. Recently that there have
been examples of conflict between grant programmes and revenue-based
support (ie the Renewables Obligation) resulting in developers
having to chose between one or the other.
52. Many renewables technologies (in common with some
from other sectors) have experienced what the REA has called "the
valley of death" in the pre-commercial phase between technology
development and full market deployment. We have not been good
at providing support for industry at this later stage, where grants
are less relevant and revenue-based support for "early movers"
would be more appropriate. For example the UK was a technology
leader in wind power at the early stages, but lost most of our
industry when Denmark introduced deployment incentives in the
late 1980's. The marine renewables industry is now in the same
position (and in danger of going the same way!).
53. We would also note that the procedures for independent
assessment of R&D proposals have been progressively watered
down in recent years. For wave and tidal technology, this is now
a mere box-ticking exercise at the preliminary stage, with no
face-to-face meeting of assessors. We are concerned that this
may lead to poor decisions on funding allocation (either funding
of non-viable projects or rejection of good ideas), since much
valuable information was exchanged at the past assessment meetings.
This means not only that there is less oversight for the spending
of Government money, but also that projects may not get as much
benefit from awareness of existing technology and work on related
54. It is not realistic to expect early stage marine
renewables projects to proceed without funding for contingency.
R&D money is also split between too many devices. This could
be helped if government provided a small fund for inventers of
new concepts, prior to the Technology Programme (TP) main stream.
This should not involve the stringent requirements of commercial
partnership or use the TP financial model, which in any case is
not appropriate for small businesses. Devices could be taken through
a rapid, cost-effective and independent evaluation procedure,
to identify the best ideas and mechanisms for further development.
This would reduce the wastage of public and private funds on concepts
that are not viable. Furthermore, the inventors would have independently
acquired data with which to approach potential commercial partners
for a TP-funded programme.
55. The government's Marine Renewable Deployment Fund
of £42 million, aimed at bridging the funding gap for early-stage
pre-commercial projects, provides 25% capital grant and a revenue
support payment of £100/MWh. However, no developers have
yet achieved the minimum qualification of three months continuous
operation or six months operation with occasional breaks. We urge
the government to be patient and wait for more developers gain
the operational experience that will allow them to apply to the
56. We would like to see more support for R&D funding
into biomass CHP (including cooling) plant in the region of 100kWth2MWth,
where the plant should be capable of providing in the order of
25kWe -500kWe respectively. This size of plant is particularly
important in distributed energy on a local scale. At present there
is little technology on the market and that which is available
is not truly commercialised. Research on opportunities for commercialising
biomass CHP at these scales and what can be achieved to reduce
the capital costs would be very helpful.
57. R&D on emissions from modern biomass systems
we believe would also be helpful in dispelling some misconceptions
and increase the acceptance this carbon-neutral technology.
58. A major benefit would appear to be to facilitate
introductions between prospective partners both in the UK and
59. The government, both at national and regional level,
already provides incentives for technology transfer between industry
and academia. As already stated, marine renewables developers
are reluctant to enter into a collaboration that involves sharing
of IP or sub-contracting of research work that they are better
placed to conduct themselves.
60. It is important that we incorporate within the strategic
programme those associated technologies required to enable deployment
of renewable energy. In addition to intelligent electricity grids,
similar consideration should be given to heat networks.
61. Associated technologies such as metering and performance
displays should also be reviewed as these can make a substantial
contribution to accelerating deployment of renewable energy systems.
Carbon Trust (2006): Future Marine Energy. Back
The RO only caters for plant built after 1990, unless it has
been refurbished, which is the case for some of the large hydro.
Therefore the 1355 figure and the 585 MW in the table cannot be
added to give an overall total, as this would result in some double-counting. Back
"Our Energy Challenge-DTI's Microgeneration Strategy, March
Footnote 8 of EU renewables roadmap says:??????? Back