Renewables Get a Budget Boost in the UK to Mixed Reactions
Fund allocation for renewable energy subsidies in the UK was increased to £300 million over the weekend— an increase of £95 million over the previous budget.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey believes this “contract for difference” (CfD) scheme would help wean the country off of fossil fuels.
“We are transforming the UK’s energy sector, dealing with a legacy of underinvestment to build a new generation of clean, secure power supplies that reduce our reliance on volatile foreign markets,” he said. “Average annual investment in renewables has doubled since 2010—with a record breaking £8 billion worth in 2013. By making projects compete for support, we’re making sure that consumers get the best possible deal as well as a secure and clean power sector.”
The CfD scheme has been geared toward less-established renewable, however, to the dismay of the solar and wind industries who receive less than a third of a subsidy money at £65 million. In addition to this, the government announced it would no longer fund large-scale solar farms in April of next year. For other forms of renewable energy, the Renewable Obligation phase-out won’t occur until 2017.
Naturally, the solar industry isn’t thrilled.
“Solar has been the rising star in the coalition’s renewable energy programme and has been championed recently by the Prime Minister at the UN and by Ministers at conference,” Paul Barwell, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association. “Why is the UK government putting this industry’s incredible achievements on solar power at risk? To curtail its growth now is just perverse and unjustified on budgetary grounds - solar has only consumed around 1% of the renewables obligation budget.”
Renewable energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Alasdair Cameron said the industry is getting closer to independence from government subsidies, but isn’t quite there yet.
“Solar could be cheaper than fossil fuels in just a few years, but it needs a little more help from government to get it there. Failure to invest now will mean a huge missed opportunity for the UK economy.”
Others have also argued that despite the support they’ve received, the smaller and medium-sized technologies have yet to see any real growth. Whether more funding will change that remains to be seen.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.