Back in February, I attended a Scottish Renewables event on “Engagement with the General Election”. It was commented that the outcome of the election would either “make or break” the case for future investment in the renewables sector in Scotland.
In anticipation of the election, a group comprising six of the leading renewable trade bodies launched a “Renewables Manifesto” statement setting out six key tests for the next Government and Renewable UK launched a General Election Manifesto last June.
So, what has happened since then? The election is less than a week away and it is clear that renewable energy has not been a key concern for any of the parties in their electioneering.
Last month, the UK fell to 8th place in the Ernst & Young Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index. This is the UK’s lowest position in 12 years. Ernst & Young attributed the fall to the lack of clarity over the role of renewables in the UK following the election.
Little attention has been given to renewable energy policies in the run up to this election (no photos of husky hugging this time round), and often the attention which has been given has been negative rather than positive.
What does the renewables industry think?
The key findings of a survey by the REA (Renewable Energy Association) published this week are:
- Are the political parties properly addressing the needs of the industry?
- 95% – No
- What was the top priority of the respondents?- 56% – Feed in Tariff
- 52% – Renewable Heat Incentive
- 44% – 2030 decarbonisation target
The industry has been saying for years that there needs to be consistent and strong support for renewable energy and political backing is required for renewables to flourish. Let’s hope the absence of energy policy from the election debate is because the issues are so important and often complex, not lending themselves to headline grabbing and sound bites. Let’s also hope it’s not a failure to appreciate the fundamental importance of the issues, or worse, abandoned support. The ever present trilemma of reducing CO2 emissions, ensuring security of supply and reducing costs are of vital importance, and will be present regardless of the outcome of the election. Perhaps the silence is in fact a positive. Maybe it’s a sign that the issues are not as contentious as they used to be, and rather than politicising such fundamental matters, there is more scope for creating the right environment to focus on, and address, the key issues.
On May 1, 2015