Sustainability

Energy sector appeals for clear renewables policy

More than 200 organisations have signed a letter written by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) to Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, petitioning them to take leadership action to accelerate the UK’s renewable energy programme and address deficiencies.

Signatories include: Sir Tim Smit of the Eden Project; Tony Juniper, adviser to Prince Charles; Dr. Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Adviser in Renewable Energy and Climate Change of the National Farmers' Union; Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association; and Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist and Policy Director of Greenpeace UK.

The letter addresses concerns about: a sluggish pace in moving the UK towards its energy goals; the complexity of the renewable energy policy framework; interventions by the Treasury; and general confusion surrounding UK energy policy and follows on from the publication of the much-anticipated Renewables Obligation (RO) Banding document, which set forth support levels for renewable energy technologies until 2017. The RO document surprised many as it gave energy from gas such a prominent role in the UK’s energy future and failed to provide further funding for onshore wind, solar power and anaerobic digestion, as expected.

“The decisions for renewable power were late and raised more questions than they answered. Renewables must not be treated like a political football, kicked between DECC and Treasury. Government shouldn’t squander this once in a generation opportunity to transform our energy system into one fit for the future, with all the jobs and inward investment this will bring”, said Martin Wright, Chair of the Renewable Energy Association.

“It’s a measure of our frustration with the pace of policy making and its lack of direction, that we are writing this open letter to the Prime Minister and Deputy PM. The UK is lagging behind virtually all other countries on renewable energy. This government needs to start living up to its Coalition Agreement, and its promise to be the greenest ever.”

The REA highlighted the economic implications of the government’s environmental policies, emphasising the money-saving benefits to be had by developing a clearer and more comprehensive energy policy.

Gaynor Hartnell, the REA Chief Executive, said: “The reasons for doing renewables have evolved over the decades. Right now we are on the cusp of pure economics being the main driver. Even the least developed renewable technologies are on a par with carbon capture and storage and nuclear power, and in fact most renewables are significantly cheaper. Our leaders must see the sense in this, and ensure the UK is not left behind.”

Paul Monaghan, the Head of Social Goals and Sustainability at the Co-operative Group, said that the current energy policy of the government is leaving investors unsure and the future unclear: “In many ways, the current situation is the worst of all worlds. Investors continue to have no clarity as to whether the Government has any real appetite for renewables – and are left to interpret the various leaks and letters that pass across the back-benches. There is a tremendous willingness in the private sector to take forward the low carbon economy, but we need the Government to act in a fair and consistent manner.”

The full letter can be found on Renewable Energy Association’s website.