With our heritage in the Engineering and Power sector, Renewable's is an key part of what we do and an important part of Britain's commitment to a low carbon economy and the need to keep the "lights on"!.
Energy secretary Chris Huhne has admitted the current rate of growth of Renewable Energy in the UK is too slow to meet EU targets for 15 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. Compared to the rest of Europe, the UK is already lagging behind in the renewable energy stakes, with the third lowest contribution of sustainable energy (at around 3 per cent) to overall energy consumption - the worst of any major EU country.
The Renewables Obligation (RO) is the main support mechanism for renewable electricity projects in the UK. Smaller scale generation is mainly supported through the Feed-In Tariff scheme (FIT)
The Government announced on the 20 October 2011 Proposals to support renewable electricity and bring forward a surge of investment in the Energy infrastructure, The consultation proposes new support levels for large scale renewable electricity from 2013-17 (2014-17 for offshore wind) under the Renewables Obligation (RO).
The Feed in Tariff was introduced in April 2010 to encourage deployment of additional small scale (less than 5MW) low carbon electricity generation, particularly by organizations, businesses, communities and individuals who have not traditionally engaged in the electricity market. Encouraging many people to invest in small scale low carbon electricity, in return for a guaranteed payment for the electricity they generate and export. The Government announced this year a consultation process to review the FIT levels, in August 2011 tariff reductions for large-scale solar PV (over 50 kilowatts) and all stand-alone PV projects were implement, the remainder of the Renewable sector will have to wait until the end of 2011 with tariffs remaining unchanged until April 2012.
There are signs of increased investment in the UK Renewable Energy sector specifically; the value of buyout deals – where investors have bought a majority stake in existing Renewable projects – has rocketed in the first half of 2011. £585m worth of deals closed so far this year, a figure which is nearly ten times greater than in 2010 (£64.3m)
Wind Energy is now attracting the promise of major investment in the UK by the likes of Siemens, Vestas and GE Energy, with 3 major technology research Centre’s already established in the UK. This potential investment will give a much needed boost in the creation of Engineering and Manufacturing jobs within the UK.
Although on a smaller scale than Wind Energy, Wave and Tidal Power are also securing invest from the likes of ABB, Scottish and Southern Power and others coupled with grants and Private Equity Investment.
An alternative approach is in the development of fuel Cell Modules which when subject to heat can generate low cost and low carbon electricity; one exciting application for this technology is the Combined Heat & Power (CHP) boiler being currently developed for the domestic and small commercial market.