The United Kingdom’s trade body for wind, wave, and tidal energy, RenewableUK, has published its manifesto outlining the role renewable energy can play in building a strong energy future for the country.
Published in the lead-up to the UK’s surprise General Election, RenewableUK — the trade body representing the wind, wave, and tidal energy industries across the UK — has laid out its manifesto for how renewable energy can help deliver energy security. Specifically, the two-page brief, Powering Britain, lays out four ways “to create a strong energy future,” including:
- Keep consumer energy bills down by investing in domestic, affordable, low-carbon power
- Set a long term, low carbon vision for energy system
- Build modern, flexible, and smart energy infrastructure which matches the needs of 21st Century consumers, British industry and the UK economy
- Secure the economic and export opportunities of renewable energy and its supply chains for Britain as we leave the EU
“The next Government has a clear opportunity to ensure that the renewable energy sector can continue to grow and deliver even cheaper electricity to UK homes and businesses,” explained RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck. “The first steps to achieving this include confirming existing investment commitments, and ensuring a competitive process is in place to secure cheap new generation. We need a transparent procurement system which is fair to all technologies.”
Unsurprisingly, the trade body of the wind, wave, and tidal energy highlighted the economic and environmental benefits of those technologies — and managed to avoid using the word ‘solar’ once in its brief, which is maybe a little unnecessarily partisan. Of course, in their defense, the authors of the report advocated “Maximising the use of our domestic energy resources,” saying that such a move would help insulate customers from the “rising household energy bills” which have primarily been caused by “fluctuations in fossil fuel prices.” Given that the UK is one of the leading wind energy regions in the world, and has significant onshore and offshore wind resources, it is therefore somewhat unsurprising that RenewableUK would so heartily advocate the use of wind as a means to securing the UK’s energy future.
Further, the brief highlighted the recently confirmed high approval rating currently in effect across the UK for renewable energy, a view which is mirrored by industry. Focusing on renewable energy as the future will deliver technological, economical, and environmental benefits. Further, the country’s grid operator, National Grid, “has made clear that it sees flexible technologies and smart system management as key to grid security.” RenewableUK therefore points out that “renewables today contribute to our energy security, through second by second response or with longer-term reserve and storage.”
Finally, and maybe most importantly, investing in and supporting the country’s renewable energy industry in turn supports industrial growth and export capacity. Renewable energy companies in the UK currently employ more than a quarter of a million people, and are expected to invest n £15.6bn in UK infrastructure between 2016 and 2021. This investment and industry power provides jobs not just to millions, but to those in communities who need them most — and creates industry hubs which provide secondary and tertiary economic benefits to local communities. Further, UK renewable energy companies currently export to 43 different countries both inside and outside of Europe, and the sector as a whole attracts significant foreign direct investment.
“As we look to leaving the European Union, the next Government can show leadership by bringing forward a plan to deliver the UK’s climate commitments and maintaining a robust carbon price floor,” Pinchbeck added. “Stable policy will allow industry to keep delivering. Government should be at the heart of building our strong energy future.”
The Powering Britain brief therefore lays out five key recommendations for Government — both Theresa May’s current administration, and whoever wins the upcoming June General Election:
- Clarify and invest in the current energy framework by confirming existing commitments to Pot 2 Contract for Difference auctions, and secure the cheapest forms of generation up to 2020;
- Maintain investor confidence by committing to the 4th and 5th carbon budgets, bringing forward policies sufficient for their delivery, and maintaining a strong carbon price floor;
- Set a long-term vision for energy. Introduce formalized and competitive processes to procure new capacity open to all technologies. In the context of an un-investable wholesale price, underpin this framework with market stabilization measures for new capacity and generation;
- During the Article 50 negotiations, enable the future growth of the UK’s energy sector by:
- Committing to a decision on EU Emissions Trading Scheme membership by the second half of 2017 and engage with reform for as long as the UK remains a member;
- Retaining membership of the Internal Energy Market and the bodies within it, and ensuring that the Single Energy Market continues within Ireland and Northern Ireland;
- Ensuring mutual ability to move products, services and a skilled workforce between the UK and Europe;
- Ensuring that the UK has a strong framework of technical and environmental standards that facilitate trade and maintain Britain’s reputation for high quality goods and services;
- Realize the UK’s excellence in early stage research and innovation in the market by:
- Establishing new approaches to support late-stage innovation development phases, such that new technologies and industries can compete in the market;
- Maintaining or replacing the UK’s participation in European research funding.