Change in the way ROCs are calculated

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Change in the way ROCs are calculated

Post  MH on Thu 18 Dec 2008 - 3:38

I was pleased to see this story in New Energy Focus, about how the new Department of Energy and Climate Change is planning on introducing a varying tariff for ROCs, dependent on the way that the renewable energy is generated.

Government set to band ROCs in favour of marine energy

The purpose of ROCs was to encourage the development of new generating technologies by guaranteeing a price for the electricity produced that would be high enough to give companies enough confidence to make the necessary investment.

The other way of looking at it is to say that it either subsidizes the cost of renewable energy, or puts the price of electricity up for the consumer. Of course this is true. But it is an attempt to reflect some of the environmental cost of burning CO2. If, as the vast majority of governments in the world think, the cost of not doing anything to restrict CO2 production is unpalatable, it is then perfectly justifiable to encourage non carbon burning technologies with financial incentives.

Yet, though I understand the principle, the practice has been less than ideal. Because once a technology is established, and the costs come down because of widespread production, the subsidy can be misused. This has proved to be particularly true in the case of some windfarms. Some, but by no means all, windfarms are put up in less than ideal places simply because money can be made from them with little risk. The rapid technological advances in wind turbines mean that larger farms, sited offshore, are likely to be far more environmentally beneficial. But the capital cost of doing it is much greater than putting them up on land.

It also means that potentially much better sources of renewable energy - in particular tidal energy - tend to be ignored because money can be made more easily from already established technologies like wind.

So the big difference in the DECC proposal is that tidal and wave energies have a doubled tariff, and that offshore wind goes up to 1.5. Onshore wind remains at 1. Some tariffs have been reduced, notably landfill gas reclamation. Not because it isn't a good thing to recover the methane, but because landfill itself is a bad idea compared with waste reduction and recycling.

This hasn't yet been finalized, and I suppose I could nitpick the details, but in principle this is a good thing ... especially for tidal energy.

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