There is no doubt that renewable energy has been a hot topic for some time now, and the draft National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3) sets out how the generation of energy using renewable sources will feature in the future of the UK energy sector. It makes it clear that electricity generation from renewable sources is an important element of the Government's transition to a low-carbon economy, and that a significant increase in generation from large-scale renewable energy infrastructure is necessary.
EN-3 covers the following types of renewable energy infrastructure:
- energy from biomass and/or waste generating over 50MW of electricity
- offshore wind generating over 100MW
- onshore wind generating over 50MW
EN-3 does not cover other types of renewable energy generation such as tidal or wave power schemes. As with the other energy sector specific NPSs, it should be read with the Overarching Energy Policy NPS (EN-1). For development proposals including co-firing of biomass or waste alongside fossil fuel, the IPC will also refer to the Fossil Fuel NPS (EN-2).
Like EN-2 relating to fossil fuels, EN-3 goes into detail on the technical considerations which the IPC must take into account in its consideration of biomass and/or waste and offshore and onshore wind projects. This includes details on the types of impact assessment to be undertaken and proposed mitigation measures to counter their effects. In addition to the generic areas on air quality, landscape and noise, the other areas relevant to offshore wind farms include the effects on seabed habitats, marine mammals, ornithology, fishing, navigation and oil, gas and other offshore infrastructure activities.
To the average person, the future of energy in the UK may seem to be all about renewables, and the amount of press coverage devoted to this area is probably responsible for this. However, as Ed Miliband commented in his statement to the House of Commons launching the draft NPSs, even with ambitious targets for renewables there will continue to be a need for additional, non-renewable, power. It is clear therefore that all of the types of infrastructure covered by the five sector specific NPSs will have a role to play in the future of the UK's energy supply.