Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Investment in UK Solar Power.

The UK continues to display its lack of ambition for environmental energy generation. Last year, the UK slumped from being third in the world in terms of investment in green growth, to only 13th place, according to a report by the respected US Pew Environment Group.

This means the UK now ranks below developing countries such as Brazil, in sixth place, India in 10th place and China in first place. 
It’s hardly surprising as the UK investment in alternative energy production fell by 70% from £7bn in 2009 to £2bn last year. Global Investors are looking for stability and expertise, the governments determined efforts to kill off the solar industry if not at birth, but, certainly in the post natal clinic, doesn’t help.

The news comes ahead of a crucial cabinet discussion of the UK's climate change targets beyond 2020. There are still deep divisions between the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which is calling for tough targets to stimulate green growth, and the Treasury and the Department of Business, which argue that the current economic situation calls for less stringent targets in 10 years' time.

Ministers must decide whether to adopt recommendations made by the Committee on Climate Change, the statutory body that is charged with advising the government on how to meet long-term climate change targets. The committee said in 2010 the UK should aim to cut emissions by 60% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. A decision should be taken soon on whether to follow that advice, if ministers are to enact the new target into law this autumn, as the Climate Change Act requires.
Ruth Davis, chief policy adviser at Greenpeace, added: "The Conservatives came to power promising to end dithering on energy decisions but instead investors face a continuing atmosphere of uncertainty. With long delays in setting up the green investment bank, further dilly-dallying over when it will be able to function as a proper bank, and a green project to insulate homes , there's no sense of direction, we've had a year of delays and broken promises. In the mean time green investment elsewhere has surged ahead so we're losing jobs and industries to other countries. Unless David Cameron gives a direct instruction to his Treasury to stop sabotaging his ambitions for the low-carbon economy, British businesses will continue to lose out."

Ahead of the Cabinet discussion, a group of 10 major UK companies including Unilever, Kingfisher, Tesco, Thames Water, EDF Energy and Shell, brought together by the Prince of Wales' corporate leaders group on climate change, have written to the prime minister, urging him to take a stand.

"This target is only credible if there are the right policies and milestones in place to ensure we take adequate action to achieve it between now and 2050. We therefore support the Committee on Climate Change's call for steady progress towards that goal along a clear trajectory, and would welcome the adoption of a strong fourth carbon budget consistent with a 2030 milestone of at least 60% reductions, and with the proposals in the EU's 2050 low-carbon roadmap."

We can all understand the need for financial prudence over the next decade. However, it seems  particularly  short sighted to ignore technology which will generate wealth in the future. Industry and innovation gave us wealth and power during the 18th and 19th centuries which we're still enjoying today. 

Why ignore history?



  1. Pondering on the other renewable technologies I found that solar power is one of the eight renewable sources identified by the DECC, albeit considered more as an afterthought. In its July 2011 paper:

    it states “the UK can meet the target to deliver 15% of the UK’s energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. Based on current information, and taking account of their long term potential as well as their cost effectiveness, eight technologies are capable of delivering more than 90% of the renewable energy we need for 2020. These are the eight technologies that have the greatest potential to help the UK meet the 2020 target in a cost effective and sustainable way":
    - Onshore wind
    - Offshore wind
    - Marine energy
    - Biomass electricity
    - Biomass heat (non-domestic)
    - Ground source and air source heat pumps (non-domestic)
    - Renewable transport (plug-in vehicles)
    - Others (hydro, geothermal, solar and domestic heat)

    Whilst the paper has little to say on the latter category, even on hydro power, it does note that “As a relatively small player in the international solar PV market, the UK is necessarily a 'price taker' – we benefit from the global cost reductions".

    Strange indeed that it prefers to reduce investment in solar power at a time when costs are reducing more than in any of the other seven renewables industries.

  2. @Chrisso
    Good comment. I'd like to think that the DECC know what is required and are acting in the countries/planets best interests. 2030, never mind 2020 isn't very far away.