Every year it's the same. A motley crew of applicants turn up, deliver their best performance in front of a dismissive panel of ill-tempered judges, and wait to see if they have secured the opportunity to have a minor impact on the national consciousness.
No, I'm not talking about the Apprentice, but the run up to the budget.
For Sir Alan, Nick and Margaret, read Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, and Mervyn King (I'll let you decide which is which). And for the wannabe apprentices, read the army of lobby groups that stalk Westminster.
This year the show seemed to start even earlier than normal with countless groups pleading their case and promising to deliver 110 per cent if only Chancellor Darling (Nick/Margaret?) and Prime Minister Brown (Sir Alan, surely?) would give them their big chance.
In the environmenal sector alone, we've seen car firms propose a "green" scrappage scheme, electric car firms call for the immediate introduction of planned incentives; the construction sector demand further financing for green building makeovers; the wind industry request urgent assistance to ensure expansion does not stall; energy firms make the case for more funding for carbon capture and storage; the microgeneration sector warn immediate action is required to plug a potentially catastrophic short term funding gap; and various environmental, business and political groups recommend everything from the launch of a national green infrastructure bank to the development of a high speed rail network.
And that's just the calls for additional green funding. When you consider that every single sector has a similar number of lobbyists meeting with ministers to set out their own budget wish lists you start to understand why MPs given themselves that three month summer holiday.
So, what can green businesses expect when the Chancellor finally opens his red box tomorrow?
Unfortunately, the answer is not a huge amount.
There will, of course, be the UK's first carbon budgets, setting carbon targets for the next 15 years. But as has been well documented, the public accounts will make for deeply depressing reading and as a result the Chancellor will have his hands tied as he seeks to deliver the investment that will required to ensure the new carbon budgets are met.
While South Korea tucks into its £23bn green new deal and US clean tech firms line up to apply for some of Obama's $100bn in new funding, UK companies can expect significantly less munificence.
The net result is that the really big ticket projects that the government has been mulling for years - high speed rail, smart grids, marine renewables and so on - will once again be kicked into the long grass. The best they can hope for is to be namechecked by the chancellor alongside vague promises for reviews or consultations - but they might not even get that given the necessary focus on the state of the short term economy.
Where progress is more likely is with those proposals that promise to cut emissions and bolster low carbon technologies without recourse to immediate direct government funding.
For example, there is an acceptance amongst ministers that urgent action is required to ensure that wind farm development does not stall as a result of the recession. It is not in a position to hand out grants to improve the viability of projects and, given the current economic climate, it will be reluctant to increase incentives that result in higher energy bills for consumers. But some form of loan guarantee scheme is more likely to gain approval and could help onshore developers' in particular access finance without forcing the Treasury to put its hand in its pocket.
Similarly, a low interest green home loan scheme that could actually make the government money in the long run has a better chance of getting the thumbs up than yet more grants for home insulation.
There could also be some direct funding for a number of sectors.
Darling has reportedly searched behind the sofas and been able to rustle up £500m in additional funding for green initiatives. It amounts to peanuts compared to some of the green stimulus plans proposed by other countries and would not even pay for half a CCS demonstration plant, but it should prove sufficient to keep the grants for onsite renewable technologies in place until a feed in tariff comes into effect next year. The money could also be used to fund some sort of green car incentive scheme or further accelerate the government's green home programme.
However, £500m in new funding is insufficient to resolve the uncertainty swirling around the government's largest and most vexed low carbon projects. Offshore wind and CCS - two of the most important pillars of the government's low carbon strategy - both look dangerously under funded at present and with each passing month the UK's claims that it retains a leadership position in these essential technologies look more and more shaky. The government may be able to keep pushing plans for smart grids and high speed rail ever further into the future, but we need these projects up and running sooner rather than later if there is to be any chance of meeting the UK's carbon targets.
The BWEA reckons somewhere in the region of £2bn in grants, tax breaks or incentives is needed to make increasingly vulnerable offshore wind projects viable, while a further £2bn is likely to be needed to make Ed Miliband's plans for an extra two CCS demonstration plants a reality.
The Treasury simply does not have that kind of money at its disposal, so while tomorrow will inevitably be characterised by the now traditional claims that we are getting a "green budget" the likelihood is that the really ambitious low carbon projects needed to ensure demanding emission reduction targets are met will be left in their current state of limbo.
Unless Darling pulls off some huge surprises, the large scale low carbon projects that the UK needs most urgently are the very projects that are going to get, if not fired exactly, then certainly sent on extended sabbatical.
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