Wind of Change for Green Power; Renewable Energy Industry Seizes the Opportunity for a Breakthrough
Byline: MATTHEW WALL
GREEN energy chiefs are banking on the free market to boost sales of clean electricity.
Paradoxically, next month's privatisation of nuclear power heralds new opportunities for green energy.
The British Energy priv-atisation will give the public a chance to invest in nuclear power. That will be followed by full competition in the market for domestic electricity in 1998.
As the State loosens its grip on electricity, backers of environmentally friendly energy are manoeuvring to seize the opportunity that an open market gives them.
Competition will mean that like industry, householders will be free to shop around for their electricity suppliers.
Dale Vince, a director of The Renewable Energy Company in Stroud, Gloucestershire, says: `We are determined to get in there and sell green power to domestic customers when the competitive market opens up.
`There are massive opportunities. Already, we are finding that companies want to be green and want to be seen to be green.'
Ray Palin, for the Energy from Waste Association, says five power plants burn household rubbish to produce electricity, two more are under contruction and three new schemes have been given planning permission.
Existing plants in Nottingham and Sheffield also provide heating for houses. He expects 10 new plants to be built within a few years.
Palin says: `Landfill tax, which will raise [pounds sterling]7 a tonne from refuse tippers from October, is bound to spur more local authorities to consider such schemes. We generate energy from only 4% of our waste; in Europe the figure is commonly 30% to 40%.'
Friends of the Earth, the environmental lobby group, has launched an Earth Saver bank account for concerned customers. Profits will go towards renew-able energy and conservation projects in the UK.
Already, 160 projects are running under the Department of Trade and Industry scheme for promoting electricity generation from renewal sources, and almost 400 more are under contract.
They represent only a small slice of the [pounds sterling]30 billion electricity market, but environmentalists believe the public will prove enthusiastic.
Backers of green energy also see opportunities for industry.
Dr Patrick Green of Friends of the Earth says: `Climate change means that renewables have to become the main energy source in the long-run.
`We need to persuade UK business that this presents a massive opportunity for them to become world leaders in the rapidly growing market for energy-efficient technology.'
Investment house Jupiter Asset Management is watching developments. Its ecology fund already
has stakes in several US companies developing alternative energy sources, including New World Power, the Californian company that was the world's first listed wind power company.
Jupiter's Charles Millar believes that UK companies may soon follow. …