Energy Bill receives Royal approval

The Energy Bill has received approval from the Queen today completing the Bill's passage through Parliament and establishing it as an act of law.

Long awaited, the Energy Bill has been the centre of controversy amongst energy companies, environmental groups and businesses since its first Parliamentary reading in November 2012.

Criticism over a missing 2030 decarbonisation target, the Government’s ‘strike prices’ for renewable technology and the speed the draft Bill was published have put it at the forefront of media reports and heavy debate.

However, the Bill’s ambition to encourage £110bn to update the UK’s aging infrastructure, replacing power plants and establishing a legislative framework for delivering secure, affordable and low carbon energy has been welcomed by both industry and environmental groups.

At the centre of the Bill’s investment drive is the Energy Market Reform (EMR), which aims to offer “stable and predictable incentives” for companies to invest in low-carbon generation.

In June, the Government set out strike price support levels for renewable technologies under the Contracts-for-Difference (CfDs) model, which intend to help renewables contribute more than 30% of total power by 2020.

Earlier this month, the Government announced support cuts to solar energy and onshore wind power, while offshore wind received stronger backing in efforts to align the Government’s renewables strategy to market conditions.

Financial support for onshore wind was cut by £5/MWh from 2015 onwards compared to the draft strike prices, the level of support for offshore wind has been increased by £5 per megawatt hour, from £135/MWh to £140/MWh.

Large-scale solar photovoltaic projects, meanwhile, will receive £120 per MWh in 2014-16, dropping to £115 in 2016-17 and £110 in 2017-19.

Under the orignal draft strike prices, solar was expected to receive £5 more p/MWh up to 2018.

Following solar support cuts, electronics giant Sharp announced this week that it was closing its photovoltaic panel production operations at its facility in Wrexham – a result of difficult European market conditions.

Some of those analysing energy policy have been sceptical of the Energy Bill’s EMR, including professor of energy policy at Oxford University Dieter Helm who in September told edie that the EMR is unlikely to solve the UK’s energy issues and will need a complete review.

Leigh Stringer

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