There have been a number of positive developments in the renewables industry this week. Firstly, David Cameron rebuffed claims made by some of his backbench MPs that onshore wind power was “inefficient” and that the subsidy rates for both onshore wind farms and single turbine developments should be cut drastically. The backbenchers had submitted a letter to the Prime Minister outlining their complaints and this week they met with Cameron and some senior cabinet ministers to discuss the issue. The result of which was a reaffirmation of the Coalition Government’s commitment to renewable energy. Cameron stated that there were “perfectly hard-headed reasons for supporting onshore wind“:
“Onshore wind plays a role in a balanced UK electricity mix, alongside gas, nuclear, cleaner coal and other forms of renewable energy. A portfolio of different supplies enhances energy security and prevents the UK from becoming over-reliant on gas imports.
“I am also determined that we seize the economic opportunities in renewable energy supply chains as the global race for capital in low-carbon sectors intensifies.”
Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker took much the same line, stating:
“The coalition is determined to drive ambitious green growth and this is putting our money where our mouth is. This cash shows we are really shifting gear when it comes to supporting innovation and offshore wind. Making wind turbines more efficient is common sense and will help bring down the costs of making them more attractive to build and helping us increase the amount of electricity we get from clean, green sources.”
A Downing Street spokesman released the following statement on the meeting between the Prime Minister and his backbenchers:
“The Prime Minister, DECC [Department of Energy and Climate Change] Minister Charles Hendry and DCLG [Department of Communities and Local Government] Minster Greg Clark met Chris Heaton-Harris and several other MPs today. The aim of meetings like this is to give backbench MPs a chance to get a better understanding of government policy and constructively engage with ministers on issues. The PM routinely meets with backbench MPs to discuss issues of importance to them.”
Secondly, it was announced that leading industry body RenewableUK and the country’s biggest trade union Unite had signed a “memorandum of understanding” with each other.
This means that the two organisations will campaign together for increased government and investor commitment to British green growth.
RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffrey commented:
“The expansion of the wind, wave and tidal industry has the potential to generate up to 120,000 jobs over the next ten years, both directly and through the UK-based supply chain that is growing alongside the industry. Many of the new opportunities the offshore wind industry in particular will generate will be in the old industrial areas along our coastline-areas badly in need of new employment. Working with Unite the union, who will represent many of these future workers, will help us achieve this vision.”
Unite national officer for energy, Kevin Coyne remarked:
“As the largest union in the UK energy sector, with members in every form of power generation and distribution. Unite is exceptionally mindful of the massive potential for growth and employment the renewable energy sector provides. Unite is committed to support the UK wind, wave and tidal industries to ensure that they create long term skilled employment opportunites. Unite looks forward to working with RenewableUK and its member companies to the mutual benefit of the industry and the workforce.”
It is hoped that a concentrated campaign from Unite could serve to really promote the renewables industry as a creator of large amounts of jobs.
Finally, a word from our own CEO Mark Wilson, quoted in a Guardian article which can be found here. He outlines the benefits medium scale onshore wind turbines can bring to farmers and landowners across the country:
“It’s like the industrial revolution now. Everyone is now trying to get in on it. It’s evolved, and we are seeing a much fairer distribution of wealth.”
With 13GW of renewable energy expected to be installed in the UK by 2020 it is very good news that government and other relevant bodies have reaffirmed their commitment to the industry.