UK will lead global energy revolution vows Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey have today underlined the UK's commitment to renewables and a green economy, telling business leaders that the UK is "a great place" to invest in energy.
In a speech to open two days of energy summits organised by UK Trade and Investment, Clegg admitted there have been differences regarding policy direction, but the Government is "unreservedly committed to helping our low-carbon sector thrive".
In his speech, Davey added that the UK remained "a great place" to invest. "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," he said.
Clegg's speech included two major investment announcements. Closed Loop Recycling is to invest £12m to double the current capacity of its Dagenham recycling site that handles both PET and HDPE bottles. It will create 100 new jobs.
Clegg also announced a government contract by UK Green Investments, who are based at BIS, to provide £100 million of initial funding to Equitix and SDCL. The two fund managers will invest in small-scale non-domestic energy efficiency infrastructure projects. They will be "actively encouraging" foreign and domestic investment alongside UK Government funds.
Neil Rutledge, an investment expert at Grant Thornton, told edie that the new fund was "exactly what the UK needed" to help restore investor confidence. "This fund makes it simple to attract investment. The Government has stuck to its timetable and done what it said it would do. This is one step to building confidence [in UK green energy]."
The UK is the sixth largest market in low carbon goods and environmental services, and Clegg suggested the Government backed further growth.
"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."
Much has been made of the rifts across Whitehall on energy policy, with the Chancellor George Osborne having suggested last year that "we're not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business".
Both Clegg and Davey looked to communicate a united front at the summit as they tried to get the Government's green policy back on track with Davey telling the audience of business leaders that it was government's role to help "take the risk out of investment".
Some have suggested that energy companies are turning their backs on the UK following a number of policy u-turns and Whitehall battles between departments.
The conference will also hear of plans by Power Electronics to open a UK headquarters in Reading, Berkshire, creating four jobs and by Spanish company Grupotec to expand its solar energy operations in the UK, creating nine jobs in Richmond, Surrey.