UK: Renewables set to keep household energy bills down

 Wind power and marine energy welcome Huhne announcement. Domestic energy bill rises range from 5% cut to 1% rise.

RenewableUK, the trade body for the Britain’s wave, tidal and wind energy sector welcomed the Government’s first Annual Energy Statement as a ‘major step towards building long term confidence in UK energy policy.’

The Statement delivered by Chris Huhne in the House of Commons reconfirmed the Government’s long-term commitment to expanding renewable energy, with the announcement of a Renewables Delivery Plan, which will map out detailed milestones to the delivery of the UK’s 2020 renewable energy target.

Maria McCaffery MBE, RenewableUK Chief Executive said: "This statement is good news for renewables and the UK as a whole – the 2050 pathways work shows that wind and renewables will be at the heart of the UK’s energy mix for the long term.

She added ‘The Government new figures on cost impact show beyond a shadow of a doubt that wind farm is not only good for the environment and jobs but for consumers too."

The Statement also outlined new Government figures which show that a combination of increased supply from renewable energy and improved energy efficiency measures will help keep household energy bill rises to 1% at oil prices of $80 per barrel (comparable to today’s $77) or even see a 5% cut if prices rise to $150.

Fully one third of the UK’s current electricity generating stock is due to be permanently retired and will have to be replaced over the next decade. With the new generation of nuclear unlikely to come on stream by 2020, and clean coal technology not yet commercially viable the choice in replacing them lies largely between a new ‘Dash for Gas’ or a major expansion in renewable energy.

The UK has just become a net importer of gas, and by 2020 we are expected to be importing between 80-90% of our supplies. With world gas prices expected to rise, Ofgem the Government’s independent energy watchdog last year predicted 60% bill increases if we fail to move to renewables.

RenewableUK also welcomed other measures outlined in the Statement, including a proposed review of Ofgem’s function to ensure that it is fit for purpose in overseeing the upgrading of the UK’s aging grid infrastructure and the commitment to improve access of renewables to the grid by introducing a ‘connect & manage’ scheme, which will particularly benefit onshore projects.

The industry also welcomed the extension of the temporary rules governing the creation of a new grid network to connect the UK’s offshore wind turbines sector to encompass a new batch of schemes, as well as a new consultation on the plans for a new permanent regime.

However, RenewableUK also called on the Government to move quickly to raise its target for the amount of offshore wind it expects to see installed by 2020 from 12 GW to over 20 GW, to ensure a big enough UK market to justify the opening of new factories in Britain, creating between 60,000-70,000 new UK based jobs.

McCaffery added "We welcome the Statement’s 40 year vision for a low carbon energy future but it is decisions taken in the next few years which will decide whether Britain gets a green job bonanza. The good work represented by this Energy Statement risks being undermined by a lack of ambition on offshore wind delivery.

‘We want to work with the Government to make sure that we tackle the obstacles we face in the delivery of the 2020 targets such as aviation objections, slow planning decisions and a lack of grid connections. The Statement today makes it easier to do just that."

RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 620 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK. Wind 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.