Last week’s big Clean Growth Strategy reveal brought to a close months of delays, anticipation and, if you believe ministers, careful consultations with stakeholders. For much of the past year the energy market lay in wait, assured in the knowledge that government officials were taking their time in producing a body of work with all the required insight and input needed to set the UK on a decarbonisation glide path to the 2030s. But when push came to shove, it appears that the government’s consultation efforts barely extended beyond Whitehall. OK, perhaps that is to do the CGS something of a disservice. The plan, although lacking precise policy details and plenty of specifics, does contain a good degree of sterling work. And it’s work that will put many investors at ease and the UK on a good footing. The full implementation of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan will do wonders for unlocking the potential of renewables and storage, and renewed emphasis on energy efficiency technologies in non-domestic buildings is hugely significant. And that’s without mentioning the near sea change in rhetoric towards clean energy. No longer are renewables the elephant in the room – that role is seemingly now fulfilled by a rather sizeable white one down in Somerset – now they are clearly considered to be a pivotal element in our future energy landscape. Which is why it’s particularly perverse for the government to have overlooked one of the cheapest, most pervasive renewables in solar. If you missed mentions of solar in the CGS then fear not, you weren’t the only one. When it came to PV, the document read more like a sales brochure for the technology’s progress than it did a policy briefing regarding its future. References to solar were largely limited to much-feted cost reductions and developments secured in the absence of subsidy. In doing so, it ignored what is quickly becoming more an orchestra than a chorus of calls for solar to be welcomed back into the Contracts for Difference fold. Instead of competing in fair, transparent and technology-agnostic auctions, solar is confined to the bench.
Solar Power Portal 17th Oct 2017 read more »
Nick Molho: This strategy differs markedly from some of its predecessors in that it enjoys clear cross-government backing. Gone are the days – it seems – of contradictory ministerial statements coming from the same department. Not only does the strategy contain a foreword from the Prime Minister, in which she commits her government to “help British businesses and entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities which the global low carbon economy presents”, but it also sets out a comprehensive set of actions that will have required support from several government departments beyond the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). In the power sector, the reconfirmation that £557m will be made available for further CfD auctions of offshore wind projects is very positive. It will help the industry develop a pipeline of investable projects (which could result in 10GW of new capacity when including projects from the last auction), build on the significant cost reductions delivered in the auction round of September 2017 and invest in the UK’s growing supply chain. However, one notable absence in the strategy is the future of mature renewables like onshore wind and solar power. Given how cost-competitive these technologies have become, the government should work with industry to develop a subsidy-free mechanism that will encourage the development of projects in parts of the country where communities want them.
Business Green 17th Oct 2017 read more »