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Saturday 17 February 2018
17 February 2018 - NEWS UPDATE
Renewable Energy

Cameron and Clegg urged for clarity on renewables policy

More than 200 industry leaders have written to David Cameron and Nick Clegg urging clarity on renewables growth and insisting the Treasury actively supports legally-binding renewable energy targets. The letter follows growing concerns about the slow pace and complexity of DECC's policy framework and a series of interventions by the Treasury, creating confusion about Government objectives and leaving key renewable power technologies without the clarity they need.

The Group represents leading organisations and individuals in all of the renewable sectors and includes Sir Tim Smit, chief executive of the Eden Project, Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, Gary Jones, director, Langage AD and Gabriel Wondrausch, MD, of Exeter-based SunGift Solar

They emphasise in the letter that the potential contribution of the renewable energy sector to national prosperity and security is tremendous.

And add: "We therefore hope you will ensure the Treasury actively supports departments charged with meeting the legally-binding renewable energy targets and delivering green growth and jobs."

The REA organised the letter. The Association says the recently published Renewables Obligation (RO) Banding document was meant to define support levels for renewable power technologies until 2017.  However, onshore wind, solar power and anaerobic digestion now have a year or less of forward visibility.

Martin Wright, Chair of the REA said: "The decisions for renewable power were late and raised more questions than they answered. Renewables must not be treated like a political football, kicked between DECC and 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.

"It's a measure of our frustration with the pace of policy making and its lack of direction, that we are writing this open letter to the Prime Minister and Deputy PM. The UK is lagging behind virtually all other countries on renewable energy. This Government needs to start living up to its Coalition Agreement, and its promise to be the greenest ever."

Illustrating the strength and breadth of support for the renewable energy agenda, the letter has been signed by signatories as diverse as investors Novusmodus and Climate Change Capital, the TUC's Frances O'Grady, the University and College Union, the NFU, environmentalist Tony Juniper and major companies npower renewables and Fred Olsen.

The letter has also been signed by several associations, from the REA and Solar Trade Association to the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association and the Country Land and Business Association.

REA Chief Executive, Gaynor Hartnell, said: "The reasons for doing renewables have evolved over the decades. Right now we are on the cusp of pure economics being the main driver. Even the least developed renewable technologies are on a par with carbon capture and storage and nuclear power, and in fact most renewables are significantly cheaper. Our leaders must see the sense in this, and ensure the UK is not left behind."

The REA's assertion that the Government is failing to understand the economic benefits of renewables investment is supported by analysis from Lord Stern and his colleagues at the Grantham Institute.

Writing in REA News Lord Stern and his colleagues said: "Costs are not saved and investment is not promoted by procrastination." Adding that the transition to a low-carbon economy, with good policy, could be: "intensely creative and full of opportunity."

Recent Ofgem figures show energy bills have risen £200 in the past two years. Recent energy bill increases have been largely driven by fossil fuel price rises while support for renewable power added just £22 to household energy bills last year. 

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals and Sustainability at The Co-operative Group, who signed the letter, said: "In many ways, the current situation is the worst of all worlds. Investors continue to have no clarity as to whether the Government has any real appetite for renewables – and are left to interpret the various leaks and letters that pass across the back-benches. There is a tremendous willingness in the private sector to take forward the low carbon economy, but we need the Government to act in a fair and consistent manner."

Earlier this year, the REA report 'Renewable Energy: Made in Britain' estimated that there are currently 110,000 people employed across the UK renewable energy sector, with the potential for a total of 400,000 if we meet our 2020 renewable energy targets. However, the report also made clear that a dedicated green skills strategy is necessary to transform the current skills shortage into a tremendous employment creation opportunity.

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