A lack of political will is ‘holding back renewables’

Senior parliamentarians from the four key political parties have agreed that political will, rather than money or technology, is holding back the UK’s renewable energy sector.

Former Energy and Climate Change Minister and Conservative MP Gregory Barker, the Green Party’s Baroness Jones, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Parliamentary Party Committee on Climate Change Lord Teverson, and Labour MP for Southampton Test Alan Whitehead all shared their views at the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) Renewable Energy Question Time event yesterday (10 March).

Although Barker was positive about the level of progress made on renewable energy over the last few years – arguing that since the coalition came into power, renewable energy has become more ‘accessible’ and ‘affordable’ and stating that the government’s Green Deal has helped bring renewable energy to the average householder – his fellow panelists were quick to point out the government’s flaws.

For example, Whitehead highlighted that government had failed to bring forward a target to decarbonise energy supplies, argued that government’s existing renewable energy initiatives will run out by 2020 and are based on coal having a much longer lease of life than capacity suggests, and stated that, while the Green Deal is based on ‘good principles’, it has been more ‘stop stop’ than ‘start stop’. He added that the future energy mix would need a more flexible energy system, with a combination of ‘reliable’ power sources with an emphasis on storage and interconnection.

All four panelists did, however, agree that a key priority for any future government should involve pushing the renewable energy agenda forward. Lord Teverson argued that government needed to make messages around renewable energy ‘more mainstream’ while Baroness Jones stated that government should ensure communities benefit from local renewable projects in order to achieve public acceptance and buy-in.

A ‘lack of political will has held back the sector’

Speaking after the event, REA Chief Executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “There is great potential for renewable energy to transform the UK’s energy mix, and while we very much welcome today’s support from a cross-party panel of parliamentarians, it is clear that a lack of political will has held back the progress of the sector.

“However, the calls for a more bottom-up approach are unanimous. We understand that we need to do more as an industry to improve understanding of renewables amongst the public to increase consumer uptake, and put greater pressure on the future government to raise the green agenda.”

Find out more about the sector’s wishes for governmental work on renewable energy.

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