Environmental campaigners have been rallying David Cameron to defend renewable energy. The British Prime Minister has been told he must do more to reign in the Treasury, after a series of setbacks on green power initiatives.
Nearly 200 green businesses signed a letter to Cameron, which was drafted by the Renewable Energy Association. It called for a public declaration of support for green energy and a solution to the uncertainty that surrounds government plants for renewable power subsidies.
Campaigners are worried that recent government U-turns on support for renewable energy are putting off much-needed investment in the industry. They point to a recent decision on future subsidies – which was severely delays, creating uncertainty for investors. For example, although offshore wind subsidies are now clear until 2017, those for onshore wind face another review. And solar subsidies are likely to be reviewed again next year. Campaigners say this incident was confusing and scaring off financial bankers for renewable energy projects.
The letter to Cameron seizes on the Olympic spirit that has taken over the UK. It reads: “We urgently need you to deliver a united ‘Team GB’ effort to secure the UK’s place as a world leader in green skilled jobs and technology. Massive investment in renewable energy is taking place across Europe and Asia and the UK cannot afford to miss out – neither can we afford to miss our carbon targets.”
Martin Wright, chairman of the Renewable Energy Association, said: “Renewables must not be treated like a political football, kicked between the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the 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.”
The signatories also pointed out recent high-profile rows within the cabinet over the future of renewables. Reports say aides to Chancellor George Osborne have been told that he wants to see more investment in gas-fired power generation, even though it is a fossil fuel with a highly volatile price.
According to the government’s analysis, the high cost of gas has been the biggest factor behind energy price rises in recent years. But Osborne believes potential gas investors will be put off by support for renewables – even though more than 10GW of new gas-fired generation is already in the advanced stages of planning or, in some cases, construction.