Energy in 2002: problems for small generators, and new windfarms galore

Renewable energy had its ups and downs in 2002, starting with the problems faced by small generators. Despite this, a number of new projects came online, with a number of government handouts for solar power for both industry and private homes. Sugar and slugs also featured as a form of renewable energy.

In the first month of the year, there was, at last, some hope for small electricity generators, with Ofgem advising that renewable energy suppliers should be given assistance (see related story). The burning question was who would fund nuclear energy (see related story).

The big news in February was the Performance and Innovation Unit’s report on the future of energy in the UK, with the Government’s think-tank urging promotion of renewables and domestic energy efficiency (see related story). The Carbon Trust in Wales agreed with the importance of energy efficiency, pointing out that Welsh businesses are missing opportunities to cut their energy costs by up to 35% (see related story).

The Government’s chief scientific advisor called for an increase in nuclear power, in March, order to cut greenhouse gases (see related story), but instead the Government announced £20 million in grants for solar power for homes and offices (see related story), and handed out £4 million for solar power on public buildings (see related story). Despite this, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) stated that the UK regions faced a challenge in meeting the country’s 2010 renewable energy target (see related story).

April saw the Budget exempting combined heat and power (CHP) generators from having to pay the Climate Change Levy (see related story), and the Government launching its new CHP strategy, which included exemption from business rates (see related story). The Department for the Environment (DEFRA) and the DTI announced that the UK’s largest offshore windfarm would be built off the Norfolk coast (see related story).

May saw the launch of a league table for green energy suppliers, with Unite[e] at the top (see related story). There was also a wave of Government handouts, with £15 million for renewables research (see related story), £10 million for business energy efficiency (see related story) and £66 million for bioenergy projects (see related story).

The most efficient windfarm in the British isles began operation in Argyll, with 46 wind turbines generating sufficient energy for 25,000 homes, in July (see related story). Meanwhile, in Brighton new solar-powered houses and offices were being built (see related story), and the Government announced an additional £38 million for renewables (see related story).

It was a different situation in August, with the Royal Academy of Engineers warning that the UK could face an energy crisis (see related story). However, there was a handout of £3.3 million for community energy schemes, and a Nottinghamshire coal plant announced it would remove 90% of its sulphur dioxide emissions (see related story).

September saw a warning that low energy prices were still preventing clean energy development (see related story), and companies buying renewable energy were warned to make sure what they were buying really was green (see related story).

Whilst a survey in October found that the UK public believed that low energy prices sent the wrong signal regarding efficiency (see related story), the Government urged companies to cut their fuel bills (see related story). With regard to new technology, scientists found that sugar and slugs could power fuel cells for robots (see related story).

Finally, at the end of the year, November saw scientists using wind power to make rain (see related story), London bus shelters were being lit by solar power (see related story), and wind power was found not to be detracting from tourism in Scotland (see related story).

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