The review proposes extending the existing renewables obligation (RO) to 20% of capacity from the current 6.7% ‘when growth in renewables allows’. Under current policy, it would rise annually to 15.4% in 2015 – 2016, then remain at that level until the obligation ceases in 2027.

In addition, the government is to launch a consultation on technology banding within the RO to give extra incentives to emerging technologies such as wave and tidal generation. Other measures outlined in the review include amending the RO to remove the risk of unanticipated Renewable Obligation Certificate (Roc) oversupply and freezing the Roc buyout price from 2015. Any changes would be introduced in 2010.

The review also acknowledges that the current planning system creates delays and uncertainties for all large energy infrastructure projects, pointing out that, on average, in England and Wales since 1990, large electricity projects have taken 36 months to secure planning consent. Addressing the frequently protracted planning regime, the government will publish a ‘statement of need’ on renewables, and will ensure renewables are firmly embedded in the forthcoming Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change. Planning guidance will also be issued with regard to overhead transmission lines later in 2006 while new inquiry rules for applications under the Electricity Act are to be introduced in spring 2007. The review also sets out government strategy to accelerate access to the electricity grid for renewable generators. The government will also appoint a high-powered inspector whose role will be to ensure that planning inquiries are run to clearly defined timescales.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) welcomed the extension to the Renewables Obligation to support the generation of 20% of electricity supplies from green sources, although it expressed concern at the absence of a timescale in which this is to be achieved.

Looking further afield, the review also sets out proposals to strengthen the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) post 2012 with a series of measures that will provide greater clarity on when and how limits on emissions will be decided in future and harmonising the EU ETS.

The full document is available from the Energy Review website at

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