The International Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers, an organisation whose members account for nearly 80% of Europe’s industrial energy consumption, has said that incentives designed to promote renewable energy are adding significantly to industry’s costs. It stated: “Renewable energies can only successfully contribute to the energy situation when permanent subsidy is not required.”

The IFIEC has found that financial surcharges have added r4.50/MWh to German electricity prices. “Most European Union schemes” it said “simply guarantee premium tariffs for electricity generated from renewable energy. However, counting capacity without any reference to efficiency criteria is misleading consumers. The reality is that, all too often, consumers are required to pay high rates for inefficiently generated power. In addition, consumers are also paying to maintain fossil-based generation capacity to guarantee supply during periods when renewables cannot deliver.”

•The International Energy Agency (IEA) has produced a study Renewable Energy – Market and Policy Trends in IEA Countries which reports that government spending in western countries on renewable energy research fell by nearly two-thirds from 1980 to 2001. The report, which examines policies and measures that have been introduced in IEA countries to increase the cost effective deployment of renewables, states that the decline appears “inconsistent with the presumed political intentions in many IEA countries to increase the share of renewables in the total primary energy supply.”

Overall, research into renewables accounted for just 7.7% of IEA governments’ energy research spending. Solar and wind energy expanded by almost 18% per year from 1970 to 2001, with growth rates accelerating in recent years, but are concentrated in just a few countries, notably Denmark, Germany, Spain, Japan and the USA.