Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Renewable Energy Law News - Week of May 28, 2013

  
Japan's feed-in-tariff system for clean energy mired in regulations

The nuclear disaster in Japan two years ago ignited a push to develop a new and clean energy industry, but those efforts are being stymied by a raft of regulations.

As part of its policy goal to diversify supply, the government introduced a feed-in-tariff system last July to kick-start the market for renewable energy.

The shift was due to the reactor meltdowns that triggered the release of vast amounts of radioactive materials at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Electric utilities are obliged to purchase renewable energy generated by developers at fixed rates to power homes and businesses through their networks. This encompasses solar, wind and geothermal energy as well as small- and medium-scale hydraulic power and energy generated by biomass.

The price is set at a level that covers the cost of production, plus a premium.

The incentive program spans 10 to 20 years, depending on the type of energy produced and the output. The utilities are permitted to pass on the purchase cost through electricity rates.

Wave and Tidal Energy Finally Entering Spotlight in Scotland

The All Energy conference and exhibition in Aberdeen, Scotland saw growing evidence of the wave and tidal sector's push toward commercialisation. Over 210 of the 580 exhibitors were involved in marine energy, the organizers said, and 15 hours of the conference were devoted to the sector. And, for the first time at this long-running show, an innovation technology showcase featured wave and tidal device developers from the UK, Norway, Australia, Canada and Russia.

Scotland’s energy minister, Fergus Ewing, announced that the nation’s £18 million (US$27 million) Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), established last year, will be used going forward to provide support for the wave energy sector. Project applications will be accepted from June, and the first funds are expected to be distributed later in the summer. And in a related announcement, the world’s largest commercial wave farm to date — 40 MW off Scotland’s northwest coast — has been approved by the Scottish government. Developer Lewis Wave Power Ltd, a subsidiary of Aquamarine Power, says the project will use 40-50 of Aquamarine's Oyster devices, which capture energy from near-shore waves. But plans may have to be scaled back, as grid owner SSE said last week that it won’t be able to start building the necessary grid connector before 2017.

Aquamarine’s wave farm and MCT’s planned 10-MW tidal stream array in Wales represent wave and tidal power’s initial steps toward commercialisation and make this an exciting time for the sector, which is "now tackling barriers to deployment", said David Blunt, Gamesa’s director of public policy for UK and EU institutions, in a conference presentation. All Energy’s wave and tidal conference sessions were focused on steps to market and calls for Europe’s large number of research programmes to develop a common agenda to better support emerging technologies. And as the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) celebrated its 10th year of testing wave and tidal devices, Norstec, a new trade organisation for the European North Sea offshore sector, was announced.


Photo via Flickr

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