The White Paper includes a series of measures aimed at supporting renewable generation, with Darling saying that the government will work to ensure there is a market price for carbon into the long-term by strengthening the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and setting out plan to triple the amount of electricity we get from renewables by 2015.

Also included in the document are proposals for legislation to band the Renewables Obligation to benefit wave, tidal and other “emerging technologies” which will receive two ROCs per MWh, double the current level. The level of the Obligation is currently set to increase in annual steps from 7.9% in 2007/08 to 15.4% by 2015, and to remain at that level until 2027 when the mechanism will end and the government will now raise RO levels to up to 20% on a “guaranteed headroom” basis to keep it ahead of the actual levels of generation. The government also intends to publish a “statement of need for renewables” emphasising the importance of renewables as a material consideration in planning inquiries where proposed renewable developments may not directly benefit the local community but yield significant benefits to society and the wider economy.

The White Paper also includes measures designed to improve grid connection for renewables projects, notably offshore developments by working with National Grid, regulators and industry to implement changes that will help bring forward connection for the most viable renewable projects. In addition, reforms to the rules relating to grid access in order to improve the opportunities for more renewable projects to connect earlier are under consideration.

An offshore transmission regime that enables offshore generators to more easily connect to the onshore grid is also to be established.

Other measures aimed at bolstering the UK’s energy infrastructure include the planning White Paper 2007, “Planning for a Sustainable Future,” which was launched a few days before the energy White Paper, and sets out radical changes to the planning system to enable timely, efficient and predictable decisions on key national infrastructure. The government plans to introduce the necessary legislation as soon as possible with the aim of introducing a reformed system in 2009. The proposals include three key elements in which ministers set a clear national case for important energy infrastructure; a streamlined and efficient decision making process which allows decisions to be taken by an independent body; and a new obligation on developers to consult before they submit applications. “With a third of our power stations needing replacing by 2020 these new proposals will help industry make the investments that the country needs,” said Darling. The planning reforms are anticipated to increase the chances of developing larges scale hydro projects such as the long-mooted Severn Barrage.

The UK has a significant tidal energy resource which could make a major contribution to the UK’s supply of renewable energy, the paper says, noting a major study led by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) currently underway is looking at issues related to harnessing tidal power in the UK.

The SDC study will consider a wide range of locations and technologies, including the potential of tidal power in the Severn Estuary and the proposals for a tidal barrage there, which could potentially supply up to 5% of the UK’s electricity demand from a renewable, low carbon source.

The government says it will consider the SDC’s final report, which is expected in September 2007, before indicating what it considers to be appropriate next steps.

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