The UK's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has reiterated the coalition’s commitment to driving the uptake of renewables in the UK during his opening speech at the Government’s British Business Embassy on Energy at Lancaster House on August 6.
Opening the first day of the two-day summit, Nick Clegg said: “The UK is the sixth largest market in low carbon goods and environmental services and this Coalition Government is unreservedly committed to helping our low carbon sector thrive. We seek nothing less than a clean, green, low carbon economy.
“There is a global energy revolution underway. And the UK is not going to be left behind. We’re leading from the front. Together we find ourselves at the vanguard of one of the most dynamic, most innovative, most important industries of our time; an industry whose breakthroughs and endeavours will shape our societies for years to come; an industry that will help us build a more stable, more sustainable, more prosperous world.”
During his speech Clegg also announced that the UK Green Investments (UK GI) team had agreed contracts to provide £100 million worth of funding for Non-Domestic Energy Efficiency (NDEE) fund managers, Equitix and SDCL. The fund managers will be charged with encouraging both foreign and domestic investment in NDEE projects across the UK.
Clegg also detailed Grouptec’s plans to expand its UK solar PV operation. The planned expansion would double the Spanish company’s current UK workforce as it looks to continue developing ground and roof-mounted solar across the UK.
Nick Clegg’s commitment to the renewable sector is in stark contrast to the Treasury’s reported hostility towards supporting renewables. During the recent RO banding, George Osborne is thought to have pushed for a deep 25% cut to the level of subsidy granted to on-shore wind farms but instead settled for a commitment to the gas industry.
Responding to Clegg’s speech, Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the UK's Renewable Energy Association said: “We need clear leadership from the top of Government on renewable energy, so the deputy prime minister’s unequivocal commitment to renewable energy is very welcome and timely. He is quite right that a global energy revolution is underway and we look forward to working with him to ensure the UK fulfils its extraordinary potential.
“However, the coalition government needs to do much better on providing a clear and stable policy framework to make sure the UK isn’t left further behind. Recent decisions on support levels for renewable power technologies, which have failed to provide the expected certainty out to 2017, together with the uncertain status of the Electricity Market Reform package, do not provide the stable framework that industry needs.”
UK secretary of state for energy and climate change, Edward Davey, who is also speaking at the event, moved to allay fears that the government’s support for renewables is wavering, saying: “The UK government is taking the necessary steps to develop a secure, clean energy mix, and this is opening up massive, long-term investment opportunities. Whether it’s our surging renewables sector or North Sea oil and gas exploration, new nuclear power or carbon capture and storage, there has never been a more exciting time to be in the UK energy sector.
“Britain is one of the easiest places to do business in the world and I am determined to maintain our reputation as a stable destination for energy investment.”