Blog: Waiting and can we afford too?

Blog: Waiting and can we afford too?By Dr Nina Skorupska CBE FEI, CEO Renewable Energy Association and WHA Director.

It is clear that we are living through a period of unprecedented change in our political landscape that is having consequences across all levels of society.  Yet for many people and businesses, they may not perceive that their lives and work are being impacted significantly, yet for others, just the increased uncertainty of what will come to pass has caused major disruption already.

Many of you are clearly aware that the results of the referendum as revealed on 24th June has not legally changed our relationship with our European colleagues but it has impacted our UK political landscape so significantly that we have a new Conservative government and, with the Labour Party’s Leadership battle, has resulted in lack of any challenge to the new government’s formulations though these are far from being any clearer for the energy industry even following the Conservative Party conference.  Whilst we know it will take time for Greg Clarke, in his new role as Secretary of State of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deliver more detail around the Industrial Strategy and how UK is due for an “upgrade” or even a reboot in its new future guise outside the EU, we are still waiting to hear the outcome of Conservative party-supported programs, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) consultation, vitally important in delivering our 3rd, 4th and 5th carbon budgets as part of UK’s own Climate Change Act.  In addition to tackling heating our homes, any new industrial strategy must include an emphasis to deliver our competitive products and services with as small a carbon footprint as possible. We know that sustainable renewable heat and electricity can deliver this and be working to the principles of a circular economy can ensure we have the resources to deliver for the longer term too. As the REA we know that where there is a clear strategy and the support has been stable and sufficient, there has been considerable success in deployment and driving costs of the technology down, but where there has not, technologies or market models have either stalled or gone backwards.

Time is ticking on and whilst the new rules of engagement with our European colleagues may be uncertain, how we deliver renewable heat to 2020 and beyond should not be.  We are seriously at risk of not achieving UK’s goals.  I and my colleagues of the WHA and REA are clear that sustainable bioenergy delivers today and into the future. We just need the Government to acknowledge this with the new fit-for-purpose RHI that respects the commitments and investments being made by a UK renewable industry.

 Note: The Board of Directors of the WHA will each month publish a blog on topics related to the biomass heating industry. The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the WHA/REA.