“It appears that the Secretary of State is bending over backwards to highlight the benefits of gas-fired and nuclear power, whilst overstating the challenges of increasing our renewable energy capacity. It is right that we get coal off the system but there is no mention of gas already being the UK’s main source of carbon emissions, the cost of nuclear power being significantly more expensive than onshore wind and solar, nor the challenges of managing large and inflexible nuclear power plants.
“With the promise of future support for gas, nuclear and offshore wind, it is totally unclear if there is any future for investment in onshore wind and solar, despite the fact that these are the cheapest forms of renewable power available. Both have the potential to make a significant contribution to future climate change targets while keeping bills down for consumers, but we will only secure deployment if they too can bid in for the long term contracts for clean power available to other technologies.
“The offshore sector will be pleased to see ministers set out ambitions for future growth in the 2020s – as long as costs continue to come down – but the delay to the next auction of long term contracts leaves two major projects off the coast of Scotland in limbo for another 12 months. It also pushes back delivery timelines for onshore wind projects on Scotland’s islands which will in turn delay the delivery of grid connections, meaning these developments will not be able to contribute to Scotland’s 100% renewable power target.
“The Government’s commitment to innovation and research is right, particularly in the crucial area of energy storage, but again they focus on everything but renewables, and there is not even a mention of the huge potential of wave and tidal energy.
“Lastly, heating accounts for 45% of the UK’s energy use and we have still to see any detail on how the Government believes it can best move us away from fossil fuels to renewables. With less than five months to go till the current funding of the Renewable Heat Incentive runs out, industry needs certainty so it can plan for the future and continue to deliver the change in the energy mix that Government wants to see.”