Wave and tidal group formed and new boost for renewables announced

Several moves were announced this week to boost the development and finance of renewable energy, including the creation of a new marine energy unit and proposals to extend the level of the renewables obligation beyond 2010/11.

Four organisations - the University of Edinburgh, Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, and the New and Renewable Energy Centre in Northumberland - have joined forces to form the UK Centre for Marine Renewable Energy.

The partnership aims to provide a coherent approach and ensure a sustained and properly equipped research, development, test and certification base to help the emerging marine energy industry provide significant renewable energy from naturally occurring wave and tidal movements.

The move comes in response to the government's recent pledge of £50 million for a marine development fund. (see related story).

Energy Minister Stephen Timms said that, although the £50 million fund offered encouragement, it was not sufficient to capture real opportunities. However: "This partnership offers a real forward facing group that can facilitate the development of a sustainable marine renewable energy industry. This will help to develop test standardisation and certification, as well as training and development, which are vital to create the foundations for a sustainable marine energy industry."

The marine energy industry in the UK has already recorded some milestones, including the first marine energy supplied directly to the grid from EMEC's first full scale deep water wave energy converter, Pelamis (see related story).

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, welcomed the partnership. "While wind is delivering renewable energy for the 2010 target, we are optimistic that wave and tidal opportunities will allow an increased chance for renewable energy in the future. It is good to see academics and industry working together to meet the challenges of future energy sources."

In addition, the government published a consultation document to strengthen the development of renewable electricity generation capacity, Renewables Obligation Order 2005.

This document outlines measures to:

  • extend the level of the renewables obligation beyond 2010/11 to 2015/16;
  • allow tradeability between Northern Ireland renewables obligation certificates and GB ones;
  • introduce measures that will further secure the buy-out fund in the event of a shortfall occurring;
  • consider the introduction of a single recycling mechanism for the separate buy-out funds;
  • introduce more flexibility for small generators.
Stephen Timms said: "The renewables obligation is a long term policy commitment and will help maintain investor confidence in the industry, which is central to achieving our target of 10% of renewable energy generation by 2010."

Commenting on the proposals that give effect to new powers acquired through the Energy Act 2004, he added:

"To reduce the impact of any further shortfalls we took a new mutualisation power in the Energy Act 2004. This allows us, in the event of a shortfall in the buy-out fund, to require suppliers to make payments to Ofgem in order to recover that shortfall."

The Northern Ireland renewables obligation is expected to be introduced from April 1 2005.

The consultation runs until December 1.

By David Hopkins




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