David Cameron’s remarks yesterday to the liaison committee of MPs about renewable energy might just play a big part in his downfall at the general election.
His comments were contradictory at best, they laid bare once again the monumental lie that was his promise to lead the greenest government ever, and – perhaps more importantly – ignored a growing tide of feeling in Britain that we need to properly tackle climate change and embrace renewable energy.
Cameron is really out of step with the country on green issues.
This is the year in which membership of the Green Party has doubled; the year in which the IPCC made it clearer than ever that we have to completely give up fossil fuels by 2050 or face catastrophic climate consequences; the year in which climate change made itself more than evident as temperatures in Europe hit their highest since the 1500s. (more…)
I’m not given to paranoia – I should say that first.
But in the past few months there have been a succession of ‘think tank’ reports, press articles and TV programs – all with the same theme – wind energy costs too much and it doesn’t work very well.
The picture being painted – is that green energy policies are responsible for huge hikes in energy bills, now and in the future – and that onshore wind in particular is a big cost and big waste of money. It’s a tune that much of our media are happy to dance to.
The timing of all of this is probably not coincidental as the government prepares to make the most radical changes to the electricity market in perhaps a generation (no pun intended). There’s a lot at stake.
What we have here, IMO, is special interest group lobbying – using dodgy (often very shoddy) think tank reports as the basis for press coverage – which itself masquerades as fact to the unwary. It’s a dirty tricks campaign.
Meanwhile – OFGEM have just published their latest report into the cost of the Renewables Obligation (for 2010 – 2011) – the main policy to stimulate and support green energy in the UK.
It’s a startling reality check for anyone sucked in by this campaign.
The actual cost per household that year, for green energy support was just £15.15. And that was for all technologies.
The part of that which went to onshore wind energy – was just £4.68.
I took some flack last week for my first post on this subject. I expected to of course. It’s not like I wasn’t advised against it. My view is that something wrong has been going on and the whistle needed blowing on it – for the greater good. Better we put our own house in order than have the Daily Mail do it for us.
I know that I wrote a strongly worded piece and if you’ve not been close to this issue over the years the passion/frustration may be hard to understand or easy to misunderstand. I’ll expand on that later – there’s an illuminating back story to tell.
And passions run high on both sides as we’ve seen, but a lot of what’s been posted has not been about the real issue here.
In this second post I want to pull the focus back to the facts.
Something very strange/funny/quite awful has come to light in the last few weeks.
It starts with this:
For the last five years Good Energy (a small UK based green electricity supplier) has been claiming to retire 5% more ROCs than they are legally obliged to do. Supposedly to encourage other people to build new green generators.
It’s been their one big claim to green fame. And it’s the single thing that’s brought them recommendations from FOE (Friends Of the Earth), NCC (National Consumer Council) and Ethical Consumer magazine – and it’s brought them customers of course.
Good Energy have repeated this 5% claim in all their marketing material and pushed the recommendation of FOE and NCC consistently now for five years. It’s been a very simple bold claim – ‘we retire 5% more ROCs than our legal obligation’ is a typical format. No wriggle room there. You either do or you don’t.
Nobody ever thought to check if they actually have been doing this though, until two months ago when we first asked OFGEM. I’m not sure why, except we know them pretty well and it seemed more than possible to us that they were saying one thing and doing another. More on this later if anyone’s interested.
OFGEM had some trouble with their systems and their data and it took about two months to get the final, final version of the numbers, although they were pretty close to the first version to be fair.
The most amazing thing is Good Energy, according to OFGEM (the industry regulator and keeper of ROCs no less) have never, ever, in all this time – met a single promise to retire 5% ROCs. Not once in five years.
There was more – For the last two years Good Energy have retired no ROCs at all…!
You have to go back three years to find a year that they actually retired any ROCs in – And then they managed just 40% of their 5% promise.
It’s not un-common to hear people say ‘We need Feed in Tariffs in the UK, like they have in Germany – they’ve got umpteen Gigawatts of renewables from it’. And fair enough they do. It’s important not to confuse large scale FITs with micro though.
The problem for onshore wind (large scale) in the UK is planning not financial and therefore FITs just can’t help. We need German planning laws to emulate German success, in large scale wind.
But what about micro generation; Are feed in tariffs the answer to better deliver this? (more…)
I discussed Feed in Tariffs with David Cameron at our Reading turbine last week. The Tories have a policy proposal to introduce Feed in Tariffs – to do something about the lack of progress we’re making with Renewable Energy in the UK. But I don’t think this will help at all. (more…)
This blog is about answers to the big questions - how will we keep the lights on, what kind of cars will we drive (will we drive?) and how will we feed ourselves - in a post oil world, and a world where we can't afford to keep burning things and throwing things away. Energy, Transport and Food are the three big issues.