Subsidy-free renewables does not mean ‘support-free’, says RES chief

Simon Peltenburg
Simon Peltenburg

Simon Peltenburg, Head of Projects (Scotland) at RES, discusses his views on how we can continue to benefit from deploying onshore wind.

In its Future Energy Scenarios Report National Grid said: ‘Gone Green is the only scenario to achieve all renewable and carbon targets on time’.  

This scenario has renewable technologies contributing 34% of electricity supplied by 2020, with wind power contributing the vast majority of output.  ‘In the three other scenarios environmental targets are not met on time due to lower prosperity and less green ambition.’

And, already the cheapest form of large scale renewable or low carbon energy, onshore wind in the UK is approaching the final stages of its journey to becoming subsidy-free. 

So, the benefits of continuing deployment of onshore wind are clear – not only for meeting the UK’s decarbonisation aims but also for keeping consumer bills down in the long term.

However, recent Government announcements, including the proposal to remove the RO from onshore wind a year early and imposing the Climate Change Levy on renewables, are sending confusing and worrying messages to investors, developers and communities alike.

In the UK’s highly regulated energy market all forms of electricity generation enjoy some form of subsidy or market support. 

Depriving the lowest cost generating option – onshore wind – of a contractual framework and route to market would be fundamentally anti-competitive and not in the best interests of UK consumers.

RES is therefore promoting a constructive dialogue between the onshore wind sector and Government to ensure onshore wind has a route to market so that it can continue to deliver substantial consumer benefits without subsidy, whilst also being located in the right locations with the backing of local communities and continuing to provide local and regional jobs and economic value.  

There may be resistance in some parts of Government to EU targets which are often portrayed as Euro-meddling, but with the US making huge commitments to renewable energy with the Clean Power Plan, the UK may find itself marginalised in global talks if it adopts an anti-renewables position.

Subsidy-free does not have to mean support-free, and with some holistic thinking the UK can still become a world-leading carbon cutter at lowest cost.

Article reproduced with kind permission of the Scottish Energy Association


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