The Economics of Renewable Energy - Economic Affairs Committee - Contents


APPENDIX 4: CURRENT STATUS, FUTURE PROSPECTS AND ACTIONS ON RENEWABLE TECHNOLOGIES IN THE UK

Where are we? What can be achieved? What is holding it back?What needs to be done?
ON-SHORE WIND POWER

Technology is mature and economical with current policies in utility scale application.

Not really effective in small scale application.

Very large projects will have significant visual impact in UK landscape

Gradual expansion of capacity (over 15GW of potential wind capacity has been applied for in Scotland alone). Objections under planning regime.

Transmission grid capacity.

Increasing costs due to global competition for raw materials and equipment.

Concerns about managing variability for increased wind capacity.

R, D&D into active grid management.
OFF-SHORE WIND POWER

Fundamental technology is mature but uneconomic under current policies.

Deployment offshore will continue to bring technological and operational challenges.

Potential for large scale development. High capital cost—increasing due to global competition for raw materials and equipment.

Transmission grid capacity.

Transmission/ distribution grid expansion.

Concerns about managing variability for increased wind capacity.

May be favoured under reformed (banded) Renewables Obligation.

R, D&D into active grid management.

HYDROELECTRIC POWER

Mature technology.

Around 1000 MW of future potential in UK, vast remaining potential worldwide     
TIDAL POWER

Several technologies exist in prototype, in need of full-scale demonstration and commercialisation.

About 10-15 years from full commercialisation, and uncertainties over cost competitiveness.

Sizeable natural resource to be exploited in UK.

Potential for technology export.

Risk/cost of demonstration.

High initial costs and extended operating lifetimes.

Demonstration support.

Development of standards.

WAVE POWER

Several technologies exist in prototype—all inevitably large with high embedded energy and uncertain maintenance and operating costs.

At least 15 years from large scale commercialisation.

Sizeable natural resource to be exploited in UK.

Potential for technology export.

Risk/Cost of demonstration. No large companies pushing the technology.

Size of devices (typically 100m per MW) and impact on shipping. Requires hundreds of machines, each the size of a tube train, packed with hydraulics, generators, etc

Energy transmission from large numbers of floating structures.

Limited supply chain.

Demonstration support.

Development of standards.

Deployment requires the commitment of large shipbuilders and power engineering companies—commitment that will take time to build.

TIDAL BARRAGE

Technology is proven, but capital costs tend to be very high.

Multi GW scale possibilities in UK (e.g. Severn Barrage), but power limited to certain (changing) times of day. Cost, environmental issues, investment risk, grid connections. Studies in progress. Substantial structural change to electricity market and/or government subsidies probably needed for large schemes.
SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAICS

Mature but costly technology, currently used mainly in niche and 'showcase' applications.

Limited potential for improvement of current (first and second generation) technology but some scope to improve production costs through improved manufacturing processes.

Higher efficiency and more flexible materials currently in development could result in lower-cost, higher-efficiency applications.

Mass deployment has been achieved where government support has been substantial (e.g. Germany, Japan).

High capital cost.

Competition for raw materials (silicon) resulting in high cost.

Lack of skilled installers.

Lack of information and accreditation schemes.

R&D into manufacturing.

R&D into "second generation" thin film silicon PV, organic PV and high-efficiency "third generation" PV (e.g. quantum dots).

Skills development.

Technology and installation accreditation.

SOLAR THERMAL ENERGY

Technology is mature and relatively cost-effective.

Large potential for domestic use, both retrofit and new build. Lack of skilled installers.

Lack of information and accreditation schemes.

Integration with building stock.

Skills development.

Technology and installation accreditation.

Introduction of 'microgeneration-ready' standards for new homes.

CONCENTRATED SOLAR ELECTRICITY

Mature but quite expensive.

Very suitable for desert regions—requires plenty of sunshine and large land areas. Not suitable for UK; long term potential for mass application in North Africa and export to Europe. Support studies.
ENERGY FROM WASTE

A variety of mature or near-market technologies exist for recovering energy from waste.

Electricity generation from landfill gas is the most widely used.

Significant potential, depending on local circumstances. Potential for landfill gas limited by restrictions on landfill.

Planning consent for thermal waste to energy plants.

Interaction with waste management policies.
BIOMASS

Technologies using 'first generation' biomass resources for heat, power generation and transport are fairly mature but relatively costly.

Higher-yield 'second generation' biofuels are being researched but are at least 10-15 years from commercialisation.

Biomass for heat and power generation could be more widely used in parts of the country.

Potential limited by other demands for land use, especially food crops. Currently biomass is imported from Europe, this is likely to reduce as EU states all turn to biomass to achieve their renewable energy targets.

Lack of supply chain coordination.

Lack of skilled installers.

Lack of information and accreditation schemes.

Establishment of sustainable supply chains.

Skills development.

Resource, technology and installation accreditation.

R&D into 'second generation' biofuels.

GEOTHERMAL

Mature but costly technology for UK. Applied on a large scale at lower costs in countries with good resource (e.g. Iceland, Philippines).

  High cost of installation.

Lack of skilled installers.

Lack of information and accreditation schemes.

Integration with building stock.

Skills development.

Technology and installation accreditation.

Introduction of 'microgeneration-ready' standards for new homes.

GROUND SOURCE HEAT PUMPS

Mature technology that can be cost effective.

Significant opportunities in space heating, easiest to apply in new buildings or major refurbishments. Getting people to apply the technology. Changes to building regulations
GREEN BUILDING DESIGN (USING NATURAL HEAT, LIGHT AND COOLING)

Exemplar projects abound but not deployed universally.

Huge opportunities for new construction and retrofit, more examples of best practice needed for retrofit. Lack of interest/ knowledge amongst people commissioning buildings or retrofits; weak building regulations and enforcement. Aggressive approach to building regulations and their enforcement; better marketing of the benefits, higher energy prices.
HYDROGEN AND FUEL CELLS

Hydrogen is not inherently renewable; in the near term, the most likely sources are fossil fuels, resulting in CO2 emissions unless accompanied by abatement technology. This is an immature technology.

Trials in USA using fuel cells power by off peak electricity to provide hydrogen for motorcycles.

Portable power sources (e.g. phones, laptops) in advanced development.

Finding cost effective applications and developing hydrogen production infrastructure.

Also ensuring that power to make the hydrogen does not come from high carbon sources.

Basic R&D on hydrogen generation.

R&D on hydrogen transport infrastructure requirements.

STORAGE TECHNOLOGIES
PUMPED STORAGE HYDRO

Mature technology, often quite expensive

Allows storage of energy to balance intermittent renewables and/or demand peaks and troughs. Large scale possibilities exist in UK and have been studied in the past. Not an attractive investment, also potential environmental issues. Flagging of opportunities, and impact on market price of intermittency. Will not be commercially attractive until value of intermittency or gap between peak and base prices becomes high.
DEMAND CONTROL

Technically possible but massive deployment challenge

Potentially allows non essential demand to be removed at times of peak demand or low outputs from intermittent generation. Market not yet ready to deploy it; attention needed to regulatory and legislative frameworks. Deployment of smart meters is a first step and government is active through Energy Bill enabling provisions, changes to domestic appliance standards and wiring regulations may be needed. Deployment of ESCOs would help (as in Energy White Paper)
SMART WHITE GOODS

Manufacturers are engaged with innovators; selective trials taking place.

Potentially allows interruptible demand to be 'intelligently disconnected' at times of power system stress. The value of this is could be significant because it may be a cost effective way of replacing expensive fast-response standby generation on the grid. Constructing the 'value chain' so that those who bear the costs can receive the rewards. Also needs mass roll out. Needs consumer acceptance. Proving the technology (in hand with some big white goods manufacturers); demonstrating it effectiveness and commercial value; constructing a route to market and the value chain for rewards.
ELECTROCHEMICAL STORAGE

Significant R,D and D done in UK a few years ago but subsequently abandoned.

Short term energy storage to manage demand peaks or low intermittent generation Market not yet interested. More development work. Will not be commercially attractive until value of intermittency or gap between peak and base prices becomes high.

Source—The Institution of Engineering and Technology




 
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