Editors note: In May UK’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd confirmed that subsidies for onshore wind power would be cut next year, which had been a pre-election promise.
By Phil Foster
The fate of the UK energy market has been uncertain for some time, with debate surrounding energy bill increases being used as a political tennis ball. It is always expected that, in the cold light of day, promises made during the campaigning stages of an election are proven to be unachievable in practice.
While Rudd has promised a grace period, we are unsure whether or not this will be enough to ensure renewable projects remain productive. The goal to reduce reliance on public subsidy and encourage independence is one worth pursuing but it is crucial that the process is done sensitively, with as little disruption to current projects as possible.
If done properly, developments that have already been granted planning permission could pave the way for up to 5.2GW of wind capacity, which may result in hundreds more wind turbines going up soon across the UK. In terms of how this will affect business and consumers they could possibly see a reduction in energy prices but only once renewable sources are in full swing.
As a business owner I understand that one of the greatest impacts resulting from this halt on investment could be job loss. Thousands of onshore wind sector employees could lose their jobs as a result of funding cuts but on the plus side, from an employer perspective, those working in the onshore wind industry may have the pick of the pack when it comes to workers raising the quality of the industry.
Longer-term, we are concerned about how the UK will reach EU 2020 targets if lack of investment reduces our domestic ability to provide carbon-neutral alternatives. While money may be saved on subsidy payments short-term, moving forward, money will have to be spent on more expensive forms of low-carbon energy generation to meet 2020 targets and tackle climate change. In the short term we predict that this could lead to energy bill increases before economies of scale can be recognised.
In the end the UK government needs to work with bodies such as Renewable UK, not against them, to reduce our impact on the environment. In order to meet 2020 climate change goals, much support is still needed. Q1 of 2015 saw domestic consumption of energy rise by 10.8% compared to Q1 2014 and as such supply needs to remain stable in order to reduce any possibility of fuel poverty.
Onshore wind farming is a great way of working towards our targets, however we can’t rely on one source alone to fulfil our needs. The good news is that other renewable sources are improving, for example, bioenergy and waste energy production is 27% higher than this time last year.
We are still confident that targets can be reached due to further investments currently in planning. A notable example would be ‘The Global Apollo Project’ which aims to make the production of renewable energy sources cheaper than fossil fuels. It’s a positive sign that there’s definitely hope for a cleaner, greener (and cheaper) future for all regardless of onshore wind farm subsidies ending.
Phil Foster is the CEO of businesses energy tariff comparison company Love Energy Savings. His strong desire to support UK SME’s make much needed savings on their energy bills. That’s why he created a business energy comparison service to help business owners not only improve their profits through savings but also save valuable time in the process of comparing and switching suppliers.
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