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General Election 2015: Renewables Needs To Make Itself Heard

General Election 2015: Renewables Needs To Make Itself Heard

It’s now only around 5 weeks’ until the general election, campaigning has started in earnest, and it remains impossible to call the composition of our next Government.  The renewables industry’s direction of travel will be dictated by the result and renewables policy features on all manifestos.

The stated renewables policies of the main political parties vary considerably in terms of pledges of ongoing support for the UK green energy sector. 

  • The Conservatives wish to phase out subsidies for onshore wind by 2020, but do see an ongoing role for onshore wind as part of the energy mix, albeit developed at a more sedate pace making reference to parts of the UK feeling “under siege” by the weight of planning applications.  They will not commit to any decarbonisation or renewables targets.
  • Labour have not yet voiced any direct opposition to renewables, although it remains to be seen what impact their pledge to freeze energy bills until 2017 may ultimately have on the sector.  They wish to see the UK Green Investment Bank’s remit extended, with powers to borrow and raise capital through some form of green savings bond, and they would commit to decarbonisation by 2030.
  • The Lib Dems are very supportive of the green agenda, and would encourage continuity in terms of energy policy and subsidies, an extended remit of the UKGIB, and more community/shared ownership in onshore projects.  They would seek to double renewable electricity generation by 2020 and commit to decarbonisation by 2030.
  • SNP is also very supportive of the renewables industry (particularly offshore wind, wave and tidal and CCS), consistent with their stance to date.  They wish to see 80% of our electricity coming from renewable sources and would seek to clarify funding beyond 2019 and commit to decarbonisation by 2030.
  • UKIP are the least supportive of the industry, with the exception of perhaps tidal and geothermal energy.  They would seek an end to so-called “green taxes” to cut fuel bills.
  • The Greens are, as to be expected, very supportive of the renewable industry and would phase out all fossil fuel-based energy generation and nuclear and would seek to reduce all UK greenhouse gas emissions to 10% of their 1990 levels by 2030.

About the only area of consensus would appear to be the need to improve energy storage technology, but little has been said in relation to how this would be achieved.

The next few months will be a defining time for the UK’s renewables industry.  The next Government is unlikely to have a majority, so the more politicians there are willing to champion the importance of renewable energy, the better the result for the industry. It is therefore crucial that in the coming weeks the industry and its supporters come together to demonstrate to the politicians (particularly at a local level), that there is significant support for renewables. 

A recent YouGov poll suggested that almost four in five Scottish adults (79%) believe the next UK Government should implement policies to continue to develop renewable energy.  That’s compared to just 26% who back fracking for shale gas, 45% who support new nuclear power stations and 49% in favour of the building or extension of coal and gas-fired power stations. The support for renewables is there, and that support needs to be vocal.

There are a number of ways to voice support, but a very good starting place is renewableUK’s 2015 UK General Election Toolkit, which can be found at http://www.renewablege2015.com/  Take a look

Chris Gotts
Partner

LChalmers