PN150704STii

EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01
THURSDAY 15 JULY 2004

ATTENTION: NEWS EDITORS/ SCIENCE/ ENERGY/ ENVIRONMENT/ TECHNOLOGY/ BUSINESS/ POLITICAL CORRESPONDENTS

GOVERNMENT WILL NOT HIT TARGETS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY, SAY LORDS

Government targets to produce ten per cent of the UK's electricity from renewable energy by 2010 are unlikely to be met because of insufficient long-term incentives for investors in the sector.

This is a major conclusion of a Lords Science and Technology Committee report on the practical implementation of the Government's policy on renewables.

The Committee examined the potential of a wide range of ways to produce renewable energy, from wind and energy crops to tidal power and biomass.

The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Oxburgh, said:

"The Government's drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions and secure our energy supply should be applauded, but it's not going about it the right way.

"Energy from renewable sources is expensive - if the Government wants the private sector to invest in renewables so as to achieve its targets, it needs to provide more reassurance about long-term returns. The current support arrangements favour only those developments that will give a quick return - in effect onshore wind farms.

"Wind is the UK's most abundant source of renewable energy. Wind farms can be built quickly, but there has to be backup from conventional plant for times when demand is high and there is little wind. The difficulties caused by such intermittency would be eased with a more diverse range of renewables.

"The Government is not giving energy the priority it deserves. It should improve co-ordination between Departments; it should push on with establishing a UK Energy Research Centre, where progress so far has been disappointingly slow; it should ensure that the Regulator, Ofgem, takes a long-term view of its responsibilities. The Government seems to believe that market forces alone will prevent the lights going out - we're not so sure."

The Committee recommends:

  • Appointing a Minister with sole responsibility for Energy

  • Producing greater long-term stability in renewable electricity prices

  • Re-opening the debate on the potential of large-scale tidal power

  • Creating a more sympathetic regulatory framework for biomass generation

  • Reviewing Ofgem's duties to ensure that it defends the long-term interest of consumers in secure and reliable electricity supplies

  • Providing better incentives for "distributed", small-scale or domestic generation

  • Co-ordinating and planning the development of renewables, taking into account such issues as cost, environmental impacts and reliability of supply

  • Involving the public and local communities in debate on the issues

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. The members of Sub-Committee II of the Science and Technology Committee who conducted this inquiry were:

Lord Flowers
Lord Lewis of Newnham
Lord Methuen
Lord Oxburgh (Chairman)
Lord Patel
Baroness Perry of Southwark
Baroness Platt of Writtle
Baroness Sharp of Guildford
Lord Sutherland of Houndwood
Lord Tombs
Lord Turnberg
Lord Wade of Chorlton
Lord Winston
Lord Young of Graffham

2. The report is published by the Stationery Office:  Renewable Energy: Practicalities, Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, 4th Report, Session 2003−04, HL Paper 126, ISBN 010 400506 8, price £18.50. The full text of the report will be available shortly after publication on www.parliament.uk/hlscience

3. The Committee is about to conduct a short examination of the work of the Government's Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. It has also established a new Sub-Committee (chaired by Baroness Perry of Southwark) to examine energy efficiency.

4. Biomass generation is the combustion of biodegradable plant or animal material (e.g straw, woodchips or chicken manure) to create energy.

For further information contact:

Christopher Johnson (Clerk of the Committee), on  020 7219 6072

For embargoed copies of the report or requests for interviews with Lord Oxburgh, contact:

Jillian Bailey (Press and Publicity Officer, Committees) on  020 7219 8659

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