Britain’s long-term energy security depends on the Johnson government stripping out obstacles blocking green power deployment, the Renewable Energy Association is urging.
In the run-up to this Thursday’s expected launch of the Conservatives’ delayed energy security strategy, the trade body tell ministers energy project developers are being held back by Whitehall’s contradictions and confusion in the post-Covid, post-Ukraine era.
Urging boldness from the government, REA chief Dr Nina Skorupska declared:
“This is a crucial moment. Over the coming months the UK must rapidly move away from fossil fuels onto renewables otherwise we could continue to suffer from volatile energy prices”.
“Our sector is clear”, Dr Skorupska stressed. “We stand ready for a mass rollout of small, medium and large-scale renewable developments if the Government are proactive in removing barriers and providing other catalysts.
“We could more than double the number of planned projects in the next two years and the number of jobs created would also increase by around two-thirds. The Government must seize these immense opportunities”.
An extra, emergency Contracts for Difference auction before this autumn, coupled with regular six-monthly bidding rounds thereafter for simplified CfDs, can help forestall rocketing costs of hydrocarbon-derived power, the REA believes. That’s particularly true, if a new CfD structure gives greater prominence to swiftly deployed, low-carbon wind, solar and hydro.
The body – full title the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology – has 550 members ranging from sole traders to multinationals, covering 14 fields of energy development, across technologies such as biogas, to wind and solar, and EV charging.
Surveyed recently, nine out ten of REA members flagged their ability dramatically to speed up project delivery, if Westminster and Whitehall show policy coherence. The REA rank and file said project delivery could double in pace, and creating skilled livelihoods rise by two-thirds, if policy panjandrums sharpened their act.
A revised Energy Security strategy was essential to necessary simplification, Dr Skorupska said. Its watchwords should be achieving a policy environment underpinning UK energy provision as “‘independent, secure and stable’.
Topping the REA’s wish list from D-BEIS and ministers are measures such as:
- Unblocking chokepoints on transmission and distribution grids which hold up renewable projects’ connections
- More direct routes-to-market for clean hydrogen
- Scrapping restrictions which snag the Green Gas Support Scheme;
- Devising industrial switching tariffs and mechanisms assisting organisations to switch away from fossil gas.
Supporting these main goals, the REA says, ministers’ thinking on energy security should also encompass
- Banning fossil-fuel electricity from all purchasing by public bodies
- Mandating community involvement or benefits in new developments, as happens in Scottish onshore wind. Cheaper tariffs for locals, or mandating community direct ownership, could feature.
- To electrify transport, targeted investment to help local councils needing most assistance. A new local authority delivery taskforce could put vehicle electrification on a regional footing
- A geothermal task force
- Commit to moving beyond E10 fuel. Now is the time, says the REA, to move beyond today’s 10% ceiling on biofuels blended in petrol. A clear path upwards should aim to copy other countries targeting an 85% blend.