The Regulatory Policy Institute Research Group

UK renewables demonstration projects: who pulls the plug?

At the 2013 Beesley Lecture on climate change policy, David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), discussed the role of the Commission in providing support for promising but not-yet-economic technologies. The last CCC budget report identified these technologies as: wind power (especially off-shore wind), tidal range, geothermal, solar and potentially CCS (carbon capture and storage).

As described by David Kennedy, current CCC and government policy is to provide support for
these technologies until they can float off into commercial operation without government
support. But, what happens if they don’t successfully graduate? Who will pull the plug? When,
how and on what basis? David Kennedy was very clear that the policy was for the support
plug to be pulled on unsuccessful technologies, but when, how and on what criteria was left
very unclear. Based on previous experience, I – along with several others at the Lecture – was
very sceptical that the public support plug would actually be pulled before a large volume of
resources had been wasted on failed demonstration projects that should have been killed off a
lot earlier.

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