With the UK set to go to the polls next month for a General Election political parties and others have been launching their manifestos this week including earlier the Liberal Democrats who included a raft of pro-renewable energy and low carbon commitments in their’s. In it the party say they would reverse the Conservative withdrawal of support for the two low cost renewable technologies, onshore wind and solar, if elected back into government.
They also back wind energy projects in appropriate locations is one such commitment with which they would aim to generate 60 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The manifesto also backs investment in energy storage, smart grid technology, hydrogen technologies, offshore wind, and tidal power. They would introduce a Zero Green Britain Act including legally binding targets to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2040 en route to their total eradication by 2050.
In addition they pledge to support carbon capture and storage, ban fracking and give nuclear power stations a continued role in electricity generation provided they receive no public subsidy. Other key elements of the manifesto proposes to tackle rising energy bills by improving home insulation and encouraging small-scale, community and council run renewable schemes. To help achieve this they would back new entrants to the energy market, aiming for at least 30 per cent of the household market to be supplied by competitors to the “Big 6” suppliers by 2022.
The Lib Dems also state new energy-efficiency targets would be enshrined in a new Green Buildings Act including restoring the zero-carbon standard for new homes and extending it to non-domestic buildings by 2022.
More private investment into renewable energy would be one of the priorities for a £100 billion package of additional infrastructure investment proposed by the party with the manifesto detailing the establishment of a British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to mobilise investment into the low-carbon and sustainable infrastructure.
Finally the party have reversed their support for fracking which they maintained when they held the energy and climate change portfolio in the coalition government.
Ken Cronin, chief executive of onshore oil and gas body UKOOG said: “We are disappointed with the Liberal Democrats’ vow to oppose fracking, which is a reversal from their position when in power when they believed it was ‘in the national interest to move on from the arguments of zealots and vested interests, and start a debate about how best to proceed safely with shale gas exploration.”
Trade industry body Scottish Renewables also launched their manifesto this week detailing how it thinks the government can best ensure affordable energy and clean growth in the future.
In it they highlight the importance of unlocking investment in the lowest-cost forms of energy, supporting the growth of under-established green technologies and accelerating the decarbonisation of heat and transport. In addition they want the government to help local communities benefit from sustainable growth and to deliver a smarter energy system by supporting research and innovation.
Speaking at the manifesto launch Scottish Renewables’ Chief Executive Officer, Niall Stuart, said “Advances in technology and rapid cost reductions mean that our industry can generate further economic and environmental benefit to Scotland and the UK – providing affordable energy for households and business and driving clean growth across the country.
“However, we will only realise those benefits with the right policy framework to unlock the investment, research and innovation required to deliver a secure, modern and low carbon energy system.”
With positive support for renewable energy in the UK still in the majority it may seem hardly surprising that a political party would include a raft of pro policies in their manifesto. However not all have and although such policies are unlikely to alter the overall result they will be a vote winner for many.
Our view however is that regardless which party comes out on top they listen to public and introduce a number of supportive pro-renewable energy policies. Generation costs are low, capacity can be maintained, and the output is clean and pretty much limitless.