Clean energy delays alarm green lobby: Official dithering has held up plans for renewable power. Susan Watts reports

The green lobby was surprised and delighted last year when the Government, in the form of the then Secretary of State for Energy, Colin Moynihan, committed itself firmly to renewable energy - 'clean' power obtained from the action of the wind, waves and sun.

But his plans to help develop the renewable energy industry have been delayed for more than a year by political changes, and now the industry is suggesting that the nuclear lobby has caused a further hitch. The suggestion is that the nuclear industry wants an extra slice of future subsidies earmarked for non-fossil-fuel energy, currently under negotiation with the European Commission. Officials in Brussels are said to be resisting this.

Last summer, Mr Moynihan, the self-styled champion of the renewables cause, set up the high- powered Renewable Energy Advisory Group to review Britain's clean-energy resources. In November he made a surprisingly upbeat announcement in which he increased the number of projects entitled to help under a government-directed scheme called the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO). This pays renewable projects a premium price for their electricity.

Then came the general election, which held up the group's work by months. Mr Moynihan also lost his seat, and renewable energy its champion. Since the election, a deathly hush has fallen on the subject. The group's report has yet to appear, although it has been all but complete for several months.

The Department of Energy has been absorbed by the Department of Trade and Industry, and where three ministers dealt with energy issues before the election, renewable energy is now only one of a list of responsibilities dealt with by a single minister: Tim Eggar.

Jeremy Sainsbury, a member of the advisory group, said: 'The Government is aware that time is ticking by. This will damage confidence within the companies involved, and is not going to do the wind-energy industry very much good within banking circles.'

Andrew Garrard, a wind-energy consultant and former chairman of the British Wind Energy Association, said: 'It was to have been a bright new world, and now there is just silence. What we need is a long-term timetable and a firm commitment and we have got neither.'

David Porter, chief executive of the Association of Independent Electricity Producers, said: 'There are lots of people out there with good projects and ideas for more. They believed in the Government's white paper on the environment but they don't know whether to keep their offices going.'

The talks between the DTI and Brussels aim to extend the NFFO beyond its cut-off date of 1998. The pounds 1.3bn NFFO levy is charged to electricity consumers, and supports both nuclear power and renewable projects by paying them extra for their power. Nuclear power receives around 98 per cent of the levy, renewables get the remaining fragment.

As the cut-off date approaches, renewable-energy schemes have found it increasingly difficult to raise finance, since they have less and less time to make a return on their investment.

The Renewable Energy Advisory Group wants rolling contracts for projects under the NFFO, giving them between eight and 15 years of support from the date they begin. The Government wants to secure some form of extension beyond 1998 before announcing the next round of projects to receive a subsidy. 'It is taking so long to get a new NFFO on the streets, that we are facing a great hole again,' said David Lindley, an advisory group member and managing director of one of Britain's largest wind-energy companies.

One sticking point in the negotiations with Brussels lies with officials in Europe who oversee competition rules. They see the NFFO as anti-competitive, and will need time-consuming persuasion to change their minds. Dr Lindley said cynics might argue that the Government is not pushing Brussels hard enough. Renewable-energy producers fear this will not now happen, since Mr Eggar is busy with privatisation of the coal industry.

The Association of Independent Electricity Producers fears the nuclear industry is the other main problem, and that it is stepping up pressure to be included in any extension. The guaranteed extra cash for its power would help to buoy up this troubled industry. Energy officials within the European Commission have said they will agree for renewable energy, but not for nuclear power.

Dr Lindley said: 'One would be surprised if the nuclear industry was not, quite properly, concerning itself with what happens after 1998.' A spokesman for the DTI would not say whether the Government has put in a plea for the nuclear industry alongside renewables.

The Association of Independent Electricity Producers has written to Mr Eggar asking if its fears are justified.

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game