Open letter calls for leadership on renewable energy

More than 200 organisations have signed an open letter to 10 Downing Street calling for the Government to demonstrate clear and consistent leadership on the future of renewable energy.

The letter, posted this morning by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) to David Cameron and Nick Clegg, sets out the benefits of a low carbon economy to national prosperity and condemns the Government’s Renewable Obligations (RO) banding decision which it claims leaves the future of key renewable technologies uncertain.

Signatories included influential green campaigners such as Tony Juniper and representatives of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. Major companies, including npower renewables and Fred Olsen also signed the letter.

The letter referred to Olympic solidarity and euphoria, urging the Government to deliver a “united ‘Team GB’ effort to secure the UK’s place as a world leader in green skilled jobs and technology.”

Growing concerns have surfaced that the RO banding decision published at the end of July was meant to gauge support levels for renewable technologies until 2017 but instead onshore wind, solar power and anaerobic digestion have a year or less of forward visibility.

Commenting on the letter, REA Chair Martin Wright, said: “The decisions for renewable power were late and raised more questions than they answered. Renewables must not be treated like a political football, kicked between the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Treasury.”

This uncertainty comes amidst a perceived lack of treasury support for green agendas and the Chancellor’s commitment to gas until 2030 and beyond.

The letter also cited Lord Stern and his colleagues who stated that “costs are not saved and investment is not promoted by procrastination,” and that the transition to a low-carbon economy, with good policy, could be “intensely creative and full of opportunity.”

According to Co-operative Group head of social goals and sustainability Paul Monaghan, who also signed the letter, said not knowing where the government stands is the real challenge.

“In many ways, the current situation is the worst of all worlds. Investors continue to have no clarity as to whether the Government has any real appetite for renewables – and are left to interpret the various leaks and letters that pass across the back-benches.”

REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell reinforced the economic benefits of renewables claiming that, “The reasons for doing renewables have evolved over the decades. Right now we are on the cusp of pure economics being the main driver.”

Government figures show that energy bills have risen £200 in the past two years and that this increase was largely driven by fossil fuel prices. The REA pointed out that support for renewable power added just £22 to household energy bills last year.

Conor McGlone

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