Julie’s article in BusinessGreen today on how Tory-Lib Dem rows damage investment in clean energy.
Every week that goes by, it seems there is another Tory-Lib Dem row over energy policy. In Energy and Climate Change questions last Thursday, I questioned Ed Davey after it emerged that David Cameron, under pressure from his climate-sceptic backbenchers, was considering an effective moratorium on onshore wind developments. Onshore wind is, in the words of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, ‘by far the cheapest large-scale renewable energy source that can be deployed at significant scale’. Yet David Cameron was happy for it to be known that he wanted to cap it, and Nick Clegg was pleased for you to hear that he had blocked it.
Given these permanent internal rows, it is sadly no surprise that investment in renewable energy has halved on David Cameron’s watch, costing jobs and threatening our energy security. And according to the Environmental Audit Committee, the current level of green investment is running at less than half of the £200bn needed over the next ten years.
Every Tory-Lib Dem row, whether real or for public relations purposes, is another hammer blow to investment in low carbon technologies. We cannot expect investors to put their money into onshore wind or indeed any low carbon technology if they think that the Government might, without warning, simply shut down the industry. And we cannot expect to generate the clean energy we need at the right cost to the consumer if we restrict the cheapest forms of renewable energy.
Labour takes investment in low carbon energy, and the policy certainty needed to make that happen, very seriously. We have said that we will set a 2030 power sector decarbonisation target, establish an energy security board to ensure the UK has the security of supply it needs, give the Green Investment Bank borrowing powers and that we will stick with Contracts for Difference.
What the Tories don’t understand is that we need an energy mix, with space for different technologies. We need new nuclear and carbon capture and storage. But we also need solar, wind, tidal and biomass. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems may claim to stand up for green energy, but they have voted with Tories every step of the way.
The opportunity is clear – if we properly support our nascent renewable energy industries, we can build a supply chain which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in manufacturing, and developments which benefit local communities.
We need a government that speaks with one voice, so Britain can take advantage of the economic opportunities ahead, and produce the clean energy our country needs to succeed.