Renewables Obligation

Renewables Obligation

The Renewables Obligation (RO) [ [ Ofgem and ROC] Ofgem: What is the Renewables Obligation] is designed to incentivise the generation of electricity from eligible renewable sources in the United Kingdom. It was introduced in England and Wales and in a different form (the Renewables Obligation (Scotland)) in Scotland in April 2002 and in Northern Ireland in April 2005.

The RO places an obligation on licensed electricity suppliers in the United Kingdom to source an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources. In 2006/07 it is 6.7% (2.6% in Northern Ireland). This figure was initially set at 3% for the period 2002/03 and under current political commitments will rise to 10.4% by the period 2011-12, then by 1% annually for the five years following.

Suppliers meet their obligations by presenting Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs). Where suppliers do not have sufficient ROCs to cover their obligation, they must make a payment into the buy-out fund. The buy-out price is a fixed price per MWh shortfall and is adjusted in line with the Retail Price Index each year. The proceeds of the buy-out fund are paid back to suppliers in proportion to how many ROCs they have presented. For example, if they were to submit 5% of the total number of ROCs submitted they would receive 5% of the total funds that defaulting supply companies pay into the buy-out fund.

Obligation periods run for one year, beginning on April 1 and running to March 31st. Supply companies have until the September 31 following the period to submit sufficient ROCs to cover their obligation, or to submit sufficient payment to the buy-out fund to cover the shortfall.

The cost of ROCs is effectively paid by all electricity consumers, since electricity suppliers pass this cost on as a small increase in the tariff for the electricity they sell.

R.O.C. Percentages and Prices by Year

, [ [ Ofgem First annual report 2002/2003 on Renewable Obligation] ] , [ [ Ofgem Second annual report 2003/2004 on Renewable Obligation] ] [ [ THE RENEWABLES OBLIGATION BUY–OUT PRICE AND MUTUALISATION CEILING] ]

Renewables Obligation Certificates

A ROC is the green certificate issued for eligible renewable electricity generated within the United Kingdom and supplied to customers in the United Kingdom by a licensed supplier. ROCs are issued by Ofgem to accredited renewable generators (or in the case of generating stations subject to a NFFO (non-fossil fuels obligation), Scottish Renewables Obligation or Northern Ireland NFFO contract, to the nominated electricity supplier). It is worth noting that the Scottish Renewables Obligation was superseded by the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) in 2002.

One ROC is issued for each megawatt-hour (MWh) of eligible renewable output. ROCs are issued into the ROC Register and so are electronic certificates.

The legislation

The Utilities Act 2000 gives the Secretary of State the power to require electricity suppliers to supply a certain proportion of their total sales in the United Kingdom from electricity generated from renewable sources. A Renewables Obligation Order is issued annually detailing the precise level of the obligation for the coming year-long period of obligation and the level of the buy-out price. The Renewables Obligation (England and Wales) was introduced by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) was introduced by the Scottish Executives and the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation was introduced by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETINI). The Orders were subject to review in 2005/06 and new Orders came into effect on 1 April 2006. The relevant pieces of legislation for the period April 2006-March 2007 are:

*The Renewables Obligation Order 2006 (Statutory Instrument (SI) 2006 No. 1004)

*The Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Order 2006 (SI 2006 No. 173), and

*The Renewables Obligation Order (Northern Ireland) 2006 (SI 2006 No. 56).

All pieces of legislation are published on the Office of Public Sector Information website [] .

Ofgem’s role

The Orders detail Ofgem's powers and functions to administer the Renewables Obligation. These functions include:

*Accrediting generating stations as being capable of generating electricity from eligible renewable sources

*Issuing ROCs and revoking these as necessary

*Establishing and maintaining a Register of ROCs

*Monitoring compliance with the requirements of the Orders

*Calculating annually the buy-out price

*Receiving buy-out payments and redistributing the buy-out fund

*Receiving late payments and redistributing the late payment fund, and

*Publishing an annual report on the operation of and compliance with the requirements of the Orders.

Ofgem also administers the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) on behalf of the Northern Ireland Authority for Energy Regulation (NIAER).

Types of energy eligible

The following sources of electricity are able to attract ROCs:

*Biogas from anaerobic digestion
*Hydro electric
*Tidal power
*Wind power
*Photovoltaic cells
*Landfill gas
*Sewage gas
*Wave power

Co-firing of biomass is also eligible. It should be noted that not all technologies which are eligible will actually be supported due to differences in economic viability. Some renewable sources of electricity are not eligible for ROCs (e.g. larger hydroelectric schemes which were in operation before April 2002).

Government review

The future shape of the scheme is currently being reviewed by Government [] following a consultation period that finished in September 2007. The document at the centre of the consultation set out an amended form of the RO which will see different technologies earn different numbers of ROCs. This has not yet been adopted as policy.

On January 22, 2007, Ofgem called for the Renewables Obligation to be replaced, claiming that the scheme is a 'very costly way' of supporting renewable electricity generation [] . In particular they are concerned that electricity customers pay for renewables projects even if they are not built due to problems obtaining planning permission, and the failure of the Renewables Obligation to link financial support for renewables to either the electricity price or the price of renewables in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

The British Wind Energy Association, whose members are major beneficiaries of the existing scheme, claims that Ofgem is partly responsible for the costs because it has failed to prioritise work on the National Grid which would allow more renewable capacity to be connected. They also stressed the need to maintain stability in the marketplace to maintain the confidence of investors [] .

The concerns of both bodies seem to be shared by the Renewable Energy Association [] .

The Scottish Wind Assessment Project has criticised the scheme for rewarding reductions in renewable electricity output: two electricity suppliers, Scottish and Southern Energy and Npower, down-rated several large hydro-power stations in order to qualify for Renewables Obligation Certificates [] .

ee also

*Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation
*United Kingdom Climate Change Programme
*Green electricity
*Green tags
*Future Energy (former green electricity accreditation scheme)

External links

* January 8, 2007, "New Builder:" [ BWEA warns on UK renewables policy as Germany leads the way]
* October 9, 2006, "" [ Granting of renewables obligation certificates to be reformed]
* August 9, 2006, "Guardian Unlimited:" [,,1840311,00.html Tickell, O: Treasury takes £150m out of renewable energy fund]


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