This Update contains brief details of Government and EU publications, legislation, cases and other policy developments in England and Wales relevant to those interested in energy, renewables, energy efficiency and the alternative energy sector, which have been published in the past month.

Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet. All links are correct at the date of publication.

If you have been forwarded this update by a colleague and would like to receive it direct please email Claire Booth.

The following topics are covered in this update:

   Biomass    Planning
   Community Energy    Pollution Prevention and Control
   Electricity Market Reform    Renewable Energy
   Energy Efficiency    Shale Gas
   Energy Security    Wind Energy
   Heat Networks  


DECC: New biomass sustainability criteria to provide certainty for investors to 2027: the Government has published its response to the November 2012 consultation on proposals to enhance the sustainability criteria for the use of biomass feedstocks under the Renewables Obligation (RO). It states that it is introducing mandatory sustainability criteria for all generators of 1MW capacity or more using solid biomass or biogas feedstock (around 98% of all biomass power generation in the UK) from April 2014. Generators of 1MW capacity and above will also have to provide an independent sustainability audit with their annual sustainability report. (22 August 2013)

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Community Energy

Green Alliance: Constituency voices – Realising the potential of community energy: this policy insight brings together findings from workshops held with MPs and local stakeholders in Edinburgh, Sheffield and Wells under the Green Alliance's Climate Leadership Programme. The research shows that there is great enthusiasm and huge potential for community energy around the UK, but the current lack of government support is making it hard for community groups to get their projects off the ground. The paper identifies local issues and opportunities, and makes recommendations for the Government as it develops its community energy strategy. If taken on board, these policy and practical changes would enable the expansion of successful community energy schemes across the UK. (29 August 2013)

ResPublica: The Community Renewables Economy – Starting up, scaling up and spinning out: this report from thinktank ResPublica reveals that community owned energy could grow 89 times its current size if the right national and local policies are put in place. The report argues that a key to achieving scale is joint ownership, where communities are able to partner with private developers, local authorities or businesses, with greater capacity, resource and financial capability. But it stresses that there are a number of barriers to be addressed, including funding, financial know-how and legal advice. Local and national Government must work together to understand the financial benefits and help catalyse growth. (10 September 2013)

DECC: Green Open Homes Network launches: announces the launch of a new initiative, Green Open Homes, to support low carbon open homes events across the country with free resources, advice, and an online hub to help local groups prepare, run and publicise events. As part of the launch, the Centre for Sustainable Energy is running a competition to award grants of £500-£20,000 to community groups wanting to run a new Green Open Homes event, together with help with marketing, event co-ordination, working with volunteers, managing a budget, websites and social media, insurance and safety. The closing date for applciations for the first funding round is 30 September 2013. (10 September 2013)

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Electricity Market Reform

DBIS: Electricity Market Reform – Eligibility for an exemption from the costs of Contracts for Difference: updated cost estimates: in July, DBIS consulted on proposals to exempt energy intensive industries from the costs of Contracts for Difference (CfD) where they pose significant risk to UK competitiveness, as part of a government package to support the most electricity intensive industries.updated costs estimates. This document contains updated cost estimates that now include additional numbers to illustrate the Government’s best estimate of the redistributive impact of the exemption. It also brings the data into line with the latest modelling for the draft Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan. (23 August 2013)

DECC: Transition from the Renewables Obligation to Contracts for Difference: a key aspect of Electricity Market Reform is the transition from the Renewables Obligation (RO) to Contracts for Difference (CfD), the new support mechanism for low-carbon electricity generation that will be open to applicants from mid-2014. DECC is seeking views on the policy and processes for the transition period, from mid-2014 to 31 March 2017, during which the RO and CfD will both be open for applications from new renewable generating capacity. It is also seeking views on the arrangements surrounding the closure of the RO to new generating capacity on 31 March 2017, and the options for additional capacity after that date. There is a draft Renewables Obligation Order 2014. The consultation closes on 25 September 2013. (10 September 2013)

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Energy Efficiency

Mayor of London: Using local powers to maximise energy efficiency retrofit – 'How to' materials for London boroughs: the Mayor of London together with London boroughs and the energy efficiency supply chain has produced a guide for London boroughs on how local powers can be best used to maximise energy efficiency retrofit. It identifies the local powers that can be used to overcome the top three challenges of planning, use of borough-held data and logistics. The toolkit provides guidance and examples of how local authorities can, and have, maximised these powers to attract energy efficiency funding, deliver retrofit projects and realise the benefits this brings to their residents. It highlights the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO), which it states are an excellent opportunity to fund retrofit works in London’s housing. (12 August 2013)

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Energy Security

DECC: Gas security of supply policy: the Energy Secretary Edward Davey has given a Written Statement to Parliament on UK gas security. He states that Ministers have considered whether intervening in the gas market to encourage more gas storage could improve security of supply without adding disproportionate costs to energy bills, but have concluded that concluded that the costs of intervention would far outweigh any benefit to security of supply. The Government has therefore decided against further intervention in the gas market; instead, it will press ahead with a range of interventions already in hand to improve gas security of supply. (4 September 2013)

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Heat Networks

Mayor of London: London's zero carbon energy resource – Secondary heat: summary report: summarises the findings of a study that examined the availability, cost and energy utilisation considerations of secondary heat sources in London (i.e. waste heat arising as a by-product of industrial and commercial activities and the heat that exists naturally within the environment) and issues associated with their integration with heat networks and with the London building stock. It considers opportunities for operating heat networks at lower temperatures and suggests recommendations for network connections and building heating systems. Its intention is to inform policy development and to inform the market on the likely technical and economic conditions in which these sources may be viable. It also identifies emerging project opportunities in London. Its headline findings are that, under forecast market and regulatory conditions, about 38% of London’s heat demand could be met by these sources when distributed via heat networks. (16 August 2013)

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DCLG: Revised requirements relating to planning applications for onshore oil and gas: seeks views on proposals for possible changes to secondary legislation in relation to application requirements and fees for onshore oil and gas development. The consultation closes on 14 October 2013. (2 September 2013)

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Pollution Prevention and Control

Environment Agency: Permitting biomass fired combustion plant which opted out of the Large Combustion Plant Directive, under the Industrial Emissions Directive: sets out the Agency's position on Best Available Techniques (BAT) for biomass firing combustion plant which previously opted out of the Large Combustion Plant Directive. It identifies the standards that such plant will need to meet if they return to service under the Industrial Emissions Directive. (14 August 2013)

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Renewable Energy

Carbon Connect: Power from renewables: this independent report outlines the important role that renewables can play in the UK’s transition to a low carbon electricity supply over coming decades. It is the second of three reports in Carbon Connect’s Future Electricity Series, which examines what role fossil fuels, renewables and nuclear can play in providing secure, sustainable and affordable electricity in the UK, and aims to guides people towards constructive debate about the future role of renewables. (4 September 2013)

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Shale Gas

DECC: Potential greenhouse gas emissions associated with shale gas production and use: this study by Professor David MacKay and Dr Tim Stone gathers available evidence on the potential greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from shale gas production and use in the UK and discusses the compatibility of shale gas production and use with UK and global climate change targets. It concludes that with the right safeguards in place, the net effect on GHG emissions from shale gas production in the UK will be relatively small. In order to ensure that global cumulative GHG emissions to the atmosphere do not increase, worldwide shale gas production needs to be accompanied by additional international emissions-reduction efforts, including a global deal on emissions reductions and additional effort to develop low-carbon technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage. (9 September 2013)
DECC has also published two infographics on fracking:

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Wind Energy

Independent: UN ruling puts future of UK wind farms in jeopardy: reports that the UN Economic Commission Europe's Compliance Committee has declared that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over approval for wind farms and the “necessary information” over their benefits or adverse effects. This was in breach of Art.7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process. The UNECE committee has also recommended that the UK must in the future submit all plans and programmes similar in nature to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan to public participation, as required by Art.7. (27 August 2013) 

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