UK: Conservative energy policy paper

 Proposals that combine market principles with "prudential oversight" a ‘good basis for a detailed roadmap’. Concerns remain over uncertainty around the future of the Renewables Obligation.

The Conservative Party’s Energy Policy paper "Rebuilding Security" was welcomed today by RenewableUK, the country’s leading renewable energy trade association, as a constructive set of proposals which forms a good basis for a detailed roadmap.

The document, launched today by Conservative leader David Cameron and the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Greg Clark, sets out the challenges facing UK energy policy in the coming years and offers 12 action points to marry security of supply with long term energy sustainability.

RenewableUK acknowledges that the Policy paper recognises the need to rebuild the nation’s ageing energy infrastructure and that it offers concrete proposals to increase significantly all types of renewable energy in the UK including wind power, wave and tidal generation.

It also pledges to ‘promote renewable energy’ with a set of proposals on onshore wind energy that build on industry best practice, including community benefit, discounted electricity and ringfenced business rates; on marine energy through the development of marine energy parks; and, on a host of other renewable technologies such as biomass, biogas and combined heat and power that should accelerate their deployment.

However, the Association is concerned that a Conservative government would abandon the Renewable Obligation (RO) support mechanism, given that it was instrumental in building up the UK’s renewable energy generating capacity, while supporting a range of renewable technologies.

Over its lifetime the RO has encouraged the development of over 13 GW of wind farm – enough to power close to 8 million households. The recent introduction of banding and a regular review mechanism for the RO means that there is now an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure that ROC values can be adjusted and RO targets kept more closely aligned with delivery, while preserving sufficient incentive to build.

Adam Bruce, RenewableUK Chairman, said: "This is a broadly welcome contribution to the debate on the UK’s energy future. Whichever party forms the next government will have a limited timeframe in which to set a clear policy framework within which innovative companies can build the next generation of plant to provide secure and sustainable sources of low carbon energy out to 2050.

Particularly welcome in this Paper is the clear commitment to renewable energy in all its forms, including a recognition that greater interconnection will enable the UK to take advantage of new energy markets, bringing added value to consumers.

In the last three months we have seen announcements that will lead to the development of over 50 GW of wind power and marine energy in the waters around the UK over the next two decades, to add to the 13 GW of onshore and offshore wind turbines already in development or operation. This Paper provides one route to the delivery of those assets as part of the UK’s transition to a low carbon, high-growth economy."

RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 593 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK.

Wind energy has been the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source for the last seven years, and this trend is expected to continue with falling costs of wind energy and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions to prevent climate change.

In 2004, RenewableUK expanded its mission to champion wave and tidal energy and use the Association’s experience to guide these technologies along the same path to commercialisation. Our primary purpose is to promote the use of wind power, wave and tidal power in and around the UK. We act as a central point for information for our membership and as a lobbying group to promote wind energy and marine renewables to government, industry, the media and the public. We research and find solutions to current issues and generally act as the forum for the UK wind, wave and tidal industry, and have an annual turnover in excess of one million pounds.