Government funding for developing renewable energy technologies has delivered technology innovation and increased the supply of renewable energy, according to a report published today by the National Audit Office. However, co-ordination has historically been limited and the absence of a consistent approach to measuring and reporting on the impact of this support means the overall value for money of spending to date cannot be demonstrated.
Numerous schemes offering direct support for renewable energy technologies have been launched during the last decade by various government departments and delivery bodies. Reflecting their own objectives and remits, each organization has determined its approach and spending on renewable energy technologies. Co-ordination among delivery bodies has historically been limited and there has been no routine collection of information on the spending and delivery by these schemes and their contribution to meeting the 2020 target for renewable energy and the longer-term statutory commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
The National Audit Office found that government-funded direct support for renewable energy technology had totalled £265 million between 2000 and 2009. This funding is separate from support provided through fiscal and regulatory measures, including the Renewables Obligation, which in 2008-09 provided financial support worth around £1 billion.
The available evidence suggests direct support has contributed to an increase in renewable energy generation. For example, the Department’s Offshore Wind Capital Grants Scheme contributed to an increase in renewable electricity equivalent to 14 per cent of total renewable generating capacity in 2008. Industry has had to seek funding from many short-term schemes to support long-term projects, but there is evidence that funding has successfully supported innovation.
Since taking on responsibility for renewable energy policy in October 2008, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has delivered a renewable energy strategy and it is now developing a supporting delivery plan. This provides an opportunity to improve co-ordination, consistency and the value for money achieved from Government funding for developing renewable energy technologies.