Now the campaign really begins …
HURRAH! THE UK’s Energy Bill has finally landed – following months of delays and turbulence caused by conflicting interests within Government departments. And so now, the hard work begins.
The Bill’s announcement should finally “help to draw a line under the recent politicking, which has been so damaging to investor confidence”, hopes Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association (see page 17 of the November/December 2012 issue of Renewable Energy Focus). It’s a sentiment echoed by many, including RenewableUK’s CEO Maria McCaffrey, although
I am not sure I would go quite so far as to say the news shows “there is rock solid support across government for renewables”.
Nor that it offers up the assurances investors have been looking for just yet.
As Miles Thomas from Savills Energy writes in his comment starting on page 16, the “all-important” Strike Prices for each technology under the Contracts for Differences regime are still “notably and frustratingly” absent. “It’s critical that these are communicated quickly.”
It’s a point echoed by countless delegates attending the RenewableUK conference (page 32), who were also frustrated by the mixed messages coming from the Government at the time – and no doubt one of the reasons AREVA has chosen Scotland as its UK offshore wind turbine manufacturing base (see page 35 of the print issue for more details and make sure you check out David Hopwood’s blog, Scotland takes advantage of Westminster's mixed messages).
The need for clarity going forward is also a point echoed strongly by Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in an interview I have just done with him. As he put it, the inconsistent and conflicted messages emanating from the UK Government over the last year have been “poisonous” to investor confidence and development of renewables – that full interview with the outgoing EWEA CEO will be published in our January/February issue and trust me, it’s a must-read for anyone involved in wind power.
With similar politicking over energy erupting elsewhere in Europe (Germany for one) and the US, the issues facing the UK industry go far beyond its borders.
Yes we are seeing a keen interest in companies wanting to invest in renewables – corporate giants, like global retailers, are certainly ramping up their investments as our feature on page 42 of the November/December 2012 issue reports.
But while there is constant bickering between politicians (the world over), confusion over how market frameworks will work (and more delays as a result), along with a fear of support being withdraw at short notice, the full potential will not be realised and innovation continually stifled.
While the UK renewable energy industry has received a fairly sweet Christmas present from the Government, it is yet to become one that makes 2013 a guaranteed happy new year.
As Thomas points out, we have all seen the Government take a u-turn or two – remember the ROC and FIT changes that so damaged the industry earlier this year? “There is no guarantee that similar u-turns will not take place in the future,” warns Thomas. Indeed not.
So it is now the renewable energy industry really needs to speak with one voice, fight its corner vociferously, and make sure the UK’s Energy Market Reform truly does achieve a renewable energy powered transition to a low carbon future (Financial consultancy Mazars has recently warned the EMR, as planned, will make project finance difficult to secure for wind projects). And that same message goes out to renewable energy players the world over.
So here’s to making 2013 the year renewables really makes a bang!
This is my Editorial Leader from the November/December 2012 issue of Renewable Energy Focus. To read the articles mentioned, subscribe now to ensure you get your copy of this and future issues of the magazine.
Check out more Renewable Energy Focus blogs, including guest posts, here.
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