Davey, a former Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, was appointed Energy and Climate Change Secretary following the resignation of fellow Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, an enthusiastic proponent of renewables.
The new minister, who described himself this week as a “lifelong supporter of renewables”, told Renewable Energy Focus during the inauguration of the Walney offshore wind farm that he would not veer from the pro-renewables path laid out by Huhne – and he was assured of support from the coalition leadership.
“There will be no change of direction simply because there has been a change of person at the helm in the department,” he said. “I want to deliver on the fantastic work that Chris Huhne did. He had the support of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, and I know I will have as we deliver on our strategy.”
But in his first week in the job, Davey has faced a barrage of anti-wind sentiment as over 100 Conservative MPs sent an open letter to the Prime Minister demanding a “drastic” cut in financial support for “inefficient” wind power.
However he defended the coalition’s – and the Conservatives - commitment to renewable energy, claiming the press had overblown reports of a revolt.
“Let’s be clear - the other side of the coalition supports the renewable targets that we signed up to,” said Davey.
“When I talk to my ministerial colleagues in the department, Charles Hendry [energy minister], Greg Barker [climate change minister] and Lord Marland, they are very supportive of the policy.”
The industry, meanwhile, remained cautiously optimistic that the new minister’s ambitions were on the right track.
“We’re encouraged by Mr Davey’s stalwart defence of the green economy – this sends a strong signal to the industry that he intends to continue with the progress his predecessor made in continuing to grow the amount of renewable energy we’ve already successfully installed,” said Adam Bell, spokesman for Renewable UK, a trade body for marine and wind power.
He added: “We’re looking forward to working with him on the Energy Bill, which will be crucial to the long-term future of renewable energy in the UK. Our members are seeking certainty on how the new support mechanism for low-carbon energy, contracts for difference, will function in practice.”
However, the support of the renewables sector was put to the test on Thursday, with the publication of the government response to the feed-in tariff review consultation, which put forward a greatly reduced tariff for solar PV and wind.