Is Whitehall really promoting renewable energy?

The UK has developed greatly in the past few years in regards to renewable energy initiatives. Programs and credits have been put into place so that residents as well as commercial consumers steer towards a more pragmatic approach to renewable energy. That said however, Nitrogen Oxide levels are rising year on year, currently atmospheric NO2 is at a dangerous level in the UK. So high are the levels here that the EU (European Commission) has sent notice to the government of intended legal actions in order to force a suitable solution to lower the Nitrogen Oxide levels here in the UK. This is not the first time that the UK has seen legal actions taken to ensure that the country takes measures towards lowering air toxins. Yet, even with legal actions the government has failed to meet the goals specified by the courts.  One has to wonder is the government doing enough to incentivise a larger uptake in renewable energy technologies.

ROCs are not enough

A very basic method which has been brought into play is ROCs (Renewable Obligation Credits). It is true that these credit force utility providers to use a certain amount of renewably sourced energy in their output. The UK has stated that it wants to receive fifteen percent of all energy from renewable energy sources. This low percentage leaves 85% of the energy outside of the solution. Consider if fifteen percent of the population used 100% renewable energy and the other 85% did not do so. The effect would be that 54,400,000 people would still be using energy from non-renewable sources.

The failure in ROCs is that the credit is in such a demand that the supply is not met. This discourages providers from seeking ROCs as the likelihood of obtaining such credits is growing less and less. Combine this scarcity with the stipulations surrounding obtaining an ROC and one can see that clearly this methodology towards renewable energy is not enough to cause a dramatic change. This failure has been addressed and in part a solution has been put into effect.

Due to the lack of effectiveness of the ROCs, the UK has passed legislation to introduce a two way, feed-in-tariff. This will be done with a Contract for Difference (or CfD) which will be aimed at low-carbon generation technologies. It has been estimated that the CfD will replace the ROCs currently in place by the year 2017. Overall the CfD plan is to be used for 15 years to help in maintaining renewable energy, as well as lowering nitrogen and carbon levels. These CfDs are a positive step forward in motivating companies to use technologies from renewable energies.

Solar Panel implementation

In 2008 solar panels really gained momentum within the UK.  The UK has offered two basic grants for obtaining solar panels. The first is for personal residence, the second covers commercial and charitable organization structures. Financially, a grant of up to 50% of the installation cost can be obtained.

This initiative has shown great promise for the convergence of the UK into a more energy conscious nation. Where in the past the UK has been dominantly dependent upon thermal and nuclear energy, the switch to solar panels has led to dramatic decreases in such uses.

Bring it to the general population

Where it is true that there are incentives for commercial companies to implement renewable energy, the programs available to the general population is disappointingly lacking. It would appear that the government has only addressed one side of the coin so to speak. Businesses have been addressed and encouraged to use renewable energy. Yet, the private sectors have been given little motivation apart from the solar panel grants and FiT.

One simple way in which the UK could promote renewable energy would be to offer a substantial tax credit to individuals which take up more migrogeneration technologies. Credits can also be given to tenants who chose to abide in rentals which use renewable energies. Doing such would encourage both the individual and the provider to have such energy in properties.

If the UK intends to meet its renewable energy goals then there will need to be more drastic measures taken to ensure that everyone is participating. Goals of 15% are not enough to make a substantial difference. Further, more attractive Initiatives and credits, oriented towards businesses which use renewable energy need to be more readily available. As the demand increases, so should the supply of easy-to-access funding.

Grey days ahead

At this time, it would appear that the UK government is not doing enough to promote renewable energy. True, there are a few positive programs which are active, but there is an unrelenting and negative chatter consistently surrounding their demise coming from Whitehall. One is lead to believe that these schemes are more to keep legal issues at bay than be in the vested interest of the general public and our environment.

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