What will the general election and Brexit have in store for renewable projects in the UK?

The upcoming UK general election is causing rifts in the energy industry. Political parties have differing agendas covering subjects from energy price plans and caps, to encouraging and discouraging renewable improvements and investments in the UK. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the latter at the minute. While Brexit is a huge concern, there is some uncertainty around whether the UK will maintain EU legislation regarding renewable, and low carbon schemes for the UK, or whether everything will be scrapped and built up again from scratch.

Reports this week have emerged claiming that the UK is behind its target to meet the EU renewables target for 2020. Meanwhile, alternative reports – such as the EY Top 10 Countries for Renewable Investment – suggests that the UK is doing well in developing and improving renewable energy projects across the country. As the reports are contradictory of each other, many are quick to explain that rather than implementing more renewable projects, the UK has instead reduced carbon emissions by cutting down coal output. 

The UK continues to underwhelm investors who are waiting to see if future UK policy will support and encourage the renewable energy industry towards a subsidy-free environment, where consumers can benefit from the UK’s excellent natural resources for renewable energy.

Part of the lack of renewable investment is down to uncertainty around Brexit and the possibility of amendments to the schemes that are currently in place. There is potential for renewable investment to pick up post-Brexit.

Political parties campaigning at the minute in preparation for the general election have been putting their views across on the energy industry, and the future of UK supply. So far, Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto has been all over the headlines, as the Labour party campaigns to renationalise the UK energy system. Meanwhile, he has also claimed to ensure the UK is generating up to 60% of energy from renewable and low carbon sources. This would potentially be done under renewable schemes such as the Contracts for Difference Scheme, plus he also claims to encourage development in Carbon Capture and Storage schemes and technology. Furthermore the Labour party claim to develop the nuclear industry, which is a difficult subject to touch on when discussing renewables.

The problem here is that CCS and nuclear doesn’t really come under the renewable projects umbrella. So once again, moving towards greener sources of energy in the UK doesn’t necessarily mean taking advantage of the UK’s potential for renewable sources of power. Tidal and wave power are not projects that have been undertaken in the UK despite its location as a group of islands. Off shore wind power has been generally very successful, however onshore wind is limited, and less cost efficient.

The Green party manifesto campaigns for a ban on fracking, and a ban on on-shore wind. They also wish to phase out coal and fossil fuel power by 2023 – two years earlier than originally planned by the government. However the UK is still very dependent on coal fired power, as well as gas and nuclear, which make up the base of power supply where wind and solar are extremely intermittent. There are no definitive outlines for replacing these essential sources of power with alternative, green or low carbon sources.

Political parties campaigning for the general election have neglected to touch on the fact that gas-fired power is the UK’s largest source of day-to-day power supply. As it is a fossil fuel providing 40-60% of UK power supply, it is something that perhaps should be considered in future energy improvement. The UK went a whole day without coal-fired power in April, all the while relying on gas fired power to generate 55% of supply.

 

 

 

 

Sources: Smartest Energy, Energy Live News, the Telegraph, Energy Voice