13. COMMISSION COMMUNICATION ENTITLED
"ENERGY FOR THE FUTURE: RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGYWHITE
PAPER FOR A COMMUNITY STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN" (5140/98)
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of
the Committee, to John Battle MP, Minister for Science, Energy
and Industry, Department of Trade and Industry
The above proposal was considered by Sub-Committee
B at its meeting this morning.
Your Explanatory Memorandum (EM), dated 30 January,
states that the overall European Union target for gross inland
European Union energy consumption from renewables by 2010 is "very
ambitious" and that the Government are concerned that the
Community should not commit itself to unrealistic ambitions. You
go on to say that the Government intends to support the principle
of action to promote renewable sources of energy but will "argue
against the endorsement of any unrealistic targets and the adoption
of measures which would impose disproportionate costs on consumers,
industry or the taxpayer". Given that your EM states that
"A Compliance Cost Assessment (CCA) has not been produced
as the White Paper does not itself place any additional burdens
on UK business", but that you estimate costs to be in the
range of £1-3 billion per annum, the Committee would like
to know how you arrived at that estimate, which in itself is very
wide. Our understanding is that, following the adoption of a Resolution
on the White Paper individual proposals produced will themselves
be subject to scrutiny in the usual way. We would be grateful
for your assurance that CCAs will be included with the individual
EMs in each case.
The Committee supports the Government's negotiating
position on this proposal. Given that renewable sources of energy
are not in all cases necessarily environmentally sound, we would
urge the Government to encourage the Commission to undertake a
more rigorous analysis of the debate on renewable versus non-renewables.
We would appreciate being kept informed at the earliest opportunity
of the outcome of discussions on this proposal at the 11 May Energy
Council. In the meantime, this letter maintains the scrutiny reserve.
13 March 1998
Letter from John Battle MP, Minister of
State for Science, Energy and Industry, Department of Trade and
Industry, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee
Thank you for your letter of 13 March, concerning
scrutiny of the renewable energy White Paper. I welcome the Committee's
support for the Government's overall stance towards the White
You ask how I arrived at the estimate of £1-3
billion per annum as the UK's share of the cost of achieving the
White Paper's target. The Commission's own estimate is that a
total investment of £110 billion will be needed to achieve
their 12 per cent target. This represents about £10 billion
a year for the EU as a whole. The UK "share" of this
clearly depends on the base on which it is calculated (for example,
the UK share of EU GDP, EU energy consumption etc), but would
on most bases give a figure in the range of £1-2 billion.
However, if the UK wished to bring its renewables consumption
closer to the EU average, a heavier investment would be needed.
I provided an "estimate" of the possible cost to the
UK, which is necessarily very crude, to give the Committee an
idea of the scale of the investment needed and I hope this was
I did not submit a compliance cost assessment
on the White Paper, but said that any specific proposals arising
from the White Paper will be examined for potential burdens and
subjected to a compliance cost assessment as appropriate. I am
happy to give the assurance you seek that cost compliance assessments
will be included with the individual EMs for all proposals flowing
from the White Paper which impose a burden on business.
I note the Committee's view that some renewable
sources of energy can have adverse effects on the environment.
You may be interested to learn that the ALTENER II programme to
be launched later this year is expected to call for proposals
for studies comparing the impact of traditional and renewable
The White Paper, together with the Commission's
proposal for an Energy Framework Programme, will be debated by
the Commons European Standing Committee B on 1 April. The Energy
Council on 11 May is expected to adopt a Resolution on the White
Paper and this was the subject of an OTNYR EM submitted to you
on 16 March.
I would be grateful if you could complete your
scrutiny of both the White Paper and draft Council resolution
in good time for the Council.
24 March 1998