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Britain Budgets for Future Low-carbon Economy

LONDON, UK, March 7, 2008 (ENS) – In its budget for 2008-2009, the British government has allocated hundreds of millions of pounds for clean energy technologies over the next three years.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Hilary Benn, MP, Thursday announced an increase in funding for clean energy technologies, investments and enterprises to over £400 million (US$808 million) over the next three years as part of the department’s 2008-2009 budget.


A few of the wind turbines in the giant Kentish Flats offshore wind farm (Photo courtesy Vattenfall)

“Now is the time to act together to tackle climate change and protect our environment. The government must lead the way by ensuring we are investing in building a low-carbon Britain,” said Benn, who heads the Department of Environment, Food & Rural, Defra.

Benn announced a 1.4 percent real increase in Defra’s overall budget as compared with the department’s 2007-2008 budget

“Defra spending will increase to almost £4 billion over the next three years but we must invest wisely,” Benn said. “That is why we are focusing our efforts on helping to provide sustainable options for the future as well as supporting and influencing governments, businesses and consumers locally and globally.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged that the UK will become a low carbon economy. Specifically, he said:

* In 2008 we are legislating to put our emissions targets into law, and will create a Green Homes Service to help individuals save energy, water and money by going green.

* In 2009 we will put a strategy in place for a major increase in renewable energy by 2020

* In 2010 we will introduce a scheme for businesses and the public sector to save 4.2 million tones of CO2 a year

* By 2011 we will have phased out the sale of high-energy light-bulbs, five million more homes will have benefited from discounted or free insulation and another three million homes from discounted energy efficient appliances.

As part of Defra’s 2008-2009 budget, the Carbon Trust will receive £47.4 million (US$95.7 million) to bring forward new energy technologies such as offshore wind, third-generation solar photovoltaic power, marine energy and biomass heating.

This funding will also be used to increase the Carbon Trust’s energy saving loans plan for small and medium sized enterprises.

The UK currently has 169 wind projects in place generating 2435 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1,361,693 homes, according to the British Wind Energy Association.

The Defra budget includes new investments in low-carbon technology to help tackle environmental challenges in developing countries over the next three years.

The sustainable waste infrastructure will receive over £2 billion (US$4 billion) in Private Finance Initiative credits provided over the next three years.

The Defra budget includes £2.15 billion (US$4.3 billion) over the next three years for flood protection.

And the resources of the Rural Development Programme for England were doubled to £3.9 billion (US$7.87 billion) available to 2013.

In addition, over the next three years the government will also provide around £10 million for a new anaerobic digestion demonstration program. Up to four commercial-scale facilities will show the potential of this technology to create renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid waste being sent to landfill.

Anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process treats wastewater sludges and organic wastes, reducing both volume and mass of the input material.

As part of an integrated waste management system, anaerobic digestion reduces the emission of landfill gas into the atmosphere.

Anaerobic digestion is a renewable energy source because the process produces a methane and carbon dioxide rich biogas suitable for energy production to help replace fossil fuels. The nutrient-rich solids left after digestion can be used as fertilizer.

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