Investment in UK renewables slumps by more than 50% after Tories axe subsidies and ban English onshore wind farms

Shocked MPs in the Westminster parliament were told yesterday that renewable energy investment in the UK was ‘dramatically lower’ in 2017 compared to 2016.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance told MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee that this was the second year in a row that there has been a drop in British renewable energy investment.

Overall, Chinese investment in all the clean energy technologies was $132.6 billion, up 24% setting a new record.

The next biggest investing country was the USA  at $56.9 billion – and up 1% on 2016 despite the less friendly tone towards renewables adopted by the Trump administration.

Large wind and solar project financings pushed Australia up 150% to a record $9 billion, and Mexico up 516% to $6.2 billion.

On the downside, Japan saw investment decline by 16% in 2017, to $23.4 billion, while Germany slipped 26% to $14.6 billion

But the UK suffered one of the biggest nose-dives in green finance investment – down 56% to $10.3 billion in the face of changes in ‘policy support’ – widely known as ‘Rudd’s Re-set’ after a series of Tory Government policy changes by the then British energy minister

Europe as a whole invested $57.4 billion, down 26% year-on-year.

Labour MP Mary Creagh, Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “This is the second year in a row that renewable energy investment in the UK has nose-dived.

“Current rates of investment simply won’t deliver enough renewable energy to meet our legally binding carbon reduction targets.

“And losing European Investment Bank funding because of Brexit  if we leave the EU could make the problem even worse.

Jon Moore, chief executive of BNEF, commented: “The 2017 total is all the more remarkable when you consider that capital costs for the leading technology – solar – continue to fall sharply. Typical utility-scale PV systems were about 25% cheaper per megawatt last year than they were two years earlier.”

Wind and solar were the two sectors that enjoyed the most funding globally:

Solar led the way, attracting $160.8 billion – equivalent to 48% of the global total for all of clean energy investment, while wind was the second-biggest sector for investment in 2017 at $107.2 billion

Below are the 2017 totals for other countries investing $1 billion-plus in clean energy:

  • France $5 billion, up 15%
  • Sweden $4 billion, up 109%
  • Netherlands $3.5 billion, up 30%
  • Canada $3.3 billion, up 45%
  • South Korea $2.9 billion, up 14%
  • Egypt $2.6 billion, up 495%
  • Italy $2.5 billion, up 15%
  • United Arab Emirates $2.2 billion, up 23-fold
  • Austria $1.2 billion, up 4%
  • Spain $1.1 billion, up 36%

Meanwhile, the government’s Clean Growth Strategy – which sets out the next steps to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change – does not go far enough.

In a new report published today, Lord Deben, a former Tory MP and now chairman of the  standing statutory Committee on Climate Change, said: “Urgent action is needed to flesh out current plans and proposals, and supplement them with additional measures, to meet the UK’s legally-binding carbon targets in the 2020s and 2030s.”

17 Jan 2018

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