Since securing sufficient majority in the Commons a year ago to be freed from the shackles of their coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the Conservative Government has been relentless in its efforts to dismantle Britain’s blossoming renewable energy industry. Despite the lack of success that austerity has had in furthering economic resilience versus the success that the clean energy industry has had in creating jobs, the Conservative government is in hot pursuit of its dogmatic, ideological agenda.
Under the auspices of ‘protecting hard working families from higher energy bills’, HM Treasury slashed the subsidies and tax incentives that once supported our young and maturing green economy. The funding that was provided from those energy bills bolstered a new economy with new jobs, new skills and paved the way for the necessary transition from fossil fuels.
In the short space of twelve months the Tory government has enacted no less than fourteen new articles of legislation which, combined, have severely undermined the ability of renewable energy enterprises to secure new business and finance new installations. The impact has been to delay building the new distributed energy infrastructure that we desperately need to keep our energy bills affordable in the future.
The exclusion of community energy from the Enterprise Investment Scheme, coupled with the removal of pre-accreditation of the Feed-In-Tariff, has made it much more difficult for community energy co-ops to create viable and attractive financial models to attract new investment. The Feed-In-Tariff itself, the primary financial incentive for the renewable energy industry, has been reduced by a staggering 91% in just last 5 years.
This not only massively undermines the ability of community energy organisations to pay for and install new clean energy projects, it creates a huge degree of uncertainty and instability in an industry that is still establishing itself. No wonder that several solar power companies have been forced out of business in recent months.
To put this in context, a recent “Renewables 2016” report by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (Ren21) shows that investment in clean energy is at an all time global high, especially in developing countries like Brazil, China, and India.
A 100% renewable energy supply is the inevitable future for the UK and indeed the world, and moreover, is supported by nine out of ten people. Despite opposition from a Government that is supposed to act in the best interests of its people, the UK still managed generate a mighty 83.3 terawatt hours of renewable electricity in 2015, accounting for 24.7% of the total electricity mix.
Each year that the industry has to fight for every small victory is another year that millions of tons of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, locking in more climate change and damaging our air quality.
The fact is that we cannot sit back and simply wait for things to get better. It is up to everyone to pressure your MP into supporting renewables as the long term energy generation source in the UK rather than opposing them. The same goes for local authorities.
Write to your MP and Councillor expressing your concern over recent policy changes and subsidy cuts, or even better, join a community energy initiative in your area and invest directly in building a more secure and clean energy future for our nation.