The United Kingdome is the largest producer of primary energy in Europe and it also has the highest rate of energy independence in the EU (about 96%). RE represent less than 1% of primary energy and about 2% of power production. Some RE can provide electricity at competitive rates. Eighty percent of RE are used for electricity purposes while 20% is used for heat.A. INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS
A.1. POLICIES, STRATEGIES AND PROJECTS
The UK has set clear goals for the development of RE. The Government's line of action lies essentially in the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) to be continued. National policy intends to stimulate the development of RE whenever they have the prospect of becoming economically attractive and environmentally acceptable, in order to contribute to diverse, secure and sustainable energy supplies and reduce emission pollutants.
The aim of agricultural policy is to provide farmers with conditions for fair competition in an open market. The government seeks to exploit all the resources available under the CAP, while limiting state intervention in all its forms to a minimum. Environmental policy is less prominent, even though the direct benefits of RE are assessed.
A.2. - THE ROLE OF TECHNICAL AGENCIES
Governmental organisations involved:
Energy Policy is handled within the department of Trade and Industry. At the institutional level, two ministries are involved in the development of bioenergy:
· The Department of Trade and Industry whose aim is to implement a policy for the development of RE.
· Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries whose aim is to stimulate new markets and alternative crops including bioenergy.
· ETSU - Energy Technology Support Unit is a State agency that promotes the use of RE for the British department of Trade and Industry. It is an organisation working on European scale.
· NRI is a state agency responsible for British aid programme for developing countries. It carries out studies on the production and harvesting of biomass for energy.
Non Governmental organisations involved:
· ESD is a consultancy group, which promotes energy conservation, efficiency, and use of RE through cost-effective solutions.
· FCA - Forestry Contracting association is a national association whose memberships are all involved in the forest industry. It aims to improve the profitability of all sectors in forestry contracting and it takes an interest in the wood fuels.
· Wood Supply Research Group is an R&D unit attached to the Forestry Department of Aberdeen University. It is concerned with increasing forestry efficiency to produce wood for industry and energy.
· LRZ is another consultancy group carrying out studies to establish energy systems using solid biofuels from energy crops or forests. It works in partnership with national and regional electricity companies.
B. LEGAL ISSUES
There are two main pieces of relevant legislation, the Environmental Protection Act (1990), and the Clean Air Act (1993). The first one classifies projects, the other one all other processes that cover smoke grit, dust and fumes.
_ FINANCIAL REGULATIONS
The British system of grants and subsidies for green electricity is based on the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation that does not finance investments but guarantees access to electricity distribution networks under specific economic conditions. Capital grants are available from the woodland grant scheme for the planting of coppice.
FINANCIAL INCENTIVES FOR THE PRODUCTION OF ENERGY CROPS:
The "set - aside" and the Woodland Grant Scheme are available nationally for the production of energy crops. The woodland grant scheme provides financial aid through a grant for SRC. These consist of one off payments 296EURO/ha for set aside lands and 444 for other lands.
FINANCIAL INCENTIVES FOR THE CONVERSION OF ENERGY CROPS:
There are no financial incentives for the conversion of energy crops.
FINANCIAL INCENTIVES FOR THE UTILISATION OF ENERGY FROM ENERGY CROPS:
The non Fossil Fuel Obligation scheme is awarded to RE projects including energy crops. The contract is long term (15 years) and provides premium electricity prices, it is competitive to encourage development and the long-term contract helps banks.
The UK industry is discussing woodfuel standards and carrying out "chipper" trials. Likely approach is to classify chips by quality and heating value.
The United Kingdom policy emphasises production of bioenergy through the NFFO mechanism, which will allow government to influence the choice of energy sources. Unlike other European countries, the economic constraints are severe and the British government does not intend to interfere with market functioning by instituting tax measures or public subsidies. Research and development is financed out of public funds, without specifically designated sources of revenue.