UK 'blocking' EU green energy plans

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Britain has been accused of trying to water down a European Union directive designed to give renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar power easier access to national electricity grids.

The UK has been pushing to amend a key passage in the directive, so that instead of saying EU member-states "shall" give priority access to renewables, it would say only that they "may" do so if they wish, The Guardian reported.

Luxembourg MEP Claude Turmes, architect of the renewables directive, accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown of backing green energy in public but behind the scenes blocking efforts to help it replace oil, coal and gas, which are blamed for global warming.

But the Department for Business rejected the allegation, insisting that Britain was already taking action to help renewable energy suppliers link up to the National Grid.

Launching last month's government renewables strategy, setting out on how the UK can meet its share of the EU's target of supplying 20% of energy from clean sources by 2020, Mr Brown said that barriers to grid access should be removed "without delay".

Supporters of the requirement to prioritise renewables say that it is necessary because a lack of connections to a network which was not designed to link up scattered and remote locations has stood in the way of wind farms delivering electricity to consumers. National Grid is under no legal obligation to connect renewable installations to the network.

In a recent report, the House of Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee voiced "frustration" at the existence of a backlog of wind power projects totalling 9.3 gigawatts which were waiting for connection to the Grid.

Discussing the British attempt to amend the EU directive, Mr Turmes said: "This would take us backwards and would weaken the possibilities of connecting renewable energy to the grid. A Government that says it wants to promote renewables cannot go for other policies behind the scenes."

But a Department for Business spokesman said: "Priority access for renewables is not necessary for us to meet our fair share of the renewables target. What renewables operators want is quicker access to the grid, not priority access. The UK is already taking significant steps to remove grid access barriers for renewables.

"It is, however, important that all forms of generation have faster access to the grid network to secure a balanced and secure energy supply. We are fully committed to meeting our fair share of the EU target, as demonstrated by our ambitious renewables strategy, published last month."

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