This roundtable event examined what could be done to maximise renewable energy, given its variable nature, and how it can play a significant role in meeting the energy demands of the future
On 21 June 2012, we hosted the fourth in a series of conversations to explore the key issues facing the renewables industry with keynote speaker Rachel Soloman Williams (Head of the Department of Energy and Climate Change's Feed-in-Tariffs Review).
Issues discussed and key outcomes
- How would the proposed reductions in Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs) affect the small and medium wind industry?
- Challenges facing the small and medium wind market
- How can the UK grow successful and profitable small and medium wind projects?
- How can small and medium wind energy continue to play a significant role in the energy mix?
How would the proposed reductions in Feed-in Tariffs affect the small and medium wind industry?
To set the scene, the group was given a recap on two reviews being carried out at the time by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC): the Renewables Obligation (RO) Banding Review and the Feed-in-Tariffs Comprehensive Review. The challenge for the Government and the small and medium wind industry was to find a balance between restricted finances, manufacturing opportunities and project development.
It was expected that the outcome of the reviews should provide long-term stability across the renewables sector out to 2020 but acknowledged that there would always be some political uncertainty.
What are the other challenges facing the small and medium wind market?
With many challenges facing the small and medium wind market, it was suggested that the industry should aim to win hearts and minds by:
- Educating the public on where their electricity comes from
- Briefing future investors (landowners, developers, financiers) on opportunities within the renewables sector
- Publishing 'good news' stories, such as the joint press release from NatWest and the NFU that was picked up by the Guardian
To support the industry, the Met Office would:
- Provide planners, such as the Town and Country Planning Association and local authorities, with information and impartial advice to help them distinguish good sites for wind turbines from bad ones
- Produce PowerPoint slides to support RenewableUK in its presentations to planners
- Consider hosting future roundtables for the small and medium wind industry on planning issues and local grid connectivity.
How can the UK grow successful and profitable small and medium wind projects?
It was concluded that the small and medium wind industry needed to find ways of promoting the benefits of renewable energy in the UK. The group also felt that to ensure continued domestic growth, the industry should support farmers - not just wealthy landowners.
The Met Office agreed to support the industry by investigating the feasibility of creating a new UK 'power' forecast through its weather services for the public.
How do we ensure small and medium wind energy continues to play a significant role in the energy mix?
Everybody - Government, manufacturers, investors, developers and operators - was responsible, within their own remit, for delivering facts on the role of renewables in the UK's energy mix. The Met Office as a trusted and impartial scientific organisation, and now part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will support UK growth in this area by publishing facts about the UK's natural resources (e.g. wind, solar, tides) and linking them to the country's ability to generate power.
Download a detailed summary of the roundtable here: