The government is proposing to favour some renewable energy sources over others in an attempt to kick-start types of green power that have been slow to take off.
The approach could mean that less well developed forms of renewable energy, such as marine or solar power, receive more subsidy in the form of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs). Established forms of renewables, such as onshore wind farms, could receive fewer ROCs.
The proposals to reform the ROC system were issued for consultation today as Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary, stuck the first spade in the ground at what will be Britain’s biggest onshore wind farm – Whitelee – operated by ScottishPower on Eaglesham Moor outside Glasgow.
The Government’s plans for a fivefold increase in electricity generated from renewable sources have stirred debate in the industry. Philip Bowman, ScottishPower chief executive, has said that the new banding of subsidies could discourage development of onshore wind power. ScottishPower, which will spend £300 million on Whitelee, is the largest developer and owner of onshore wind power in the UK.
Mr Bowman has said that prospects for onshore wind development are not improving and could suffer further at the expense of other forms of renewable generation that were “exceedingly immature” and “economically . . . exceedingly inefficient”.
Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem’s chief executive, has also admitted that the uncertainty surrounding the Renewables Obligation was making it difficult to attract capital.
By Angela Jameson
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