renewable investment

Government pledges £557m to ramp up green power projects in the UK

The government has pledged over half a billion pounds for new renewable electricity schemes such as offshore wind farms, which have seen costs halve in just two years, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department said.

Dubbed “The Clean Growth Strategy”, the money will go into auctions for subsidy contracts, which guarantee a set price for the power generated by renewable projects.

The long-delayed strategy has to address how the UK will get back on track to meet legally-binding targets to cut emissions in the 2020s, which it is currently set to miss by a wide margin, and meet further legal targets by 2032.

The announcement follows a campaign last month led by a number of prominent environmental groups that called for the UK to further embrace offshore wind to supply its electricity needs. 

Environmental law firm ClientEarth has warned of possible legal action if the strategy does not show how the targets will be met, which would mean the government continued to be in breach of the UK’s climate laws.

The government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned in the summer that “urgent” plans were needed as the move to a low-carbon economy was in danger of being derailed by a lack of action by ministers. 

To meet carbon targets cost effectively, 60 per cent of new cars and vans must be electric by 2030, which would require stretching limits for emissions from new cars after 2020, financial support and rolling out recharging infrastructure, the CCC said.

Plans must include measures to ensure 25 per cent of building heating is low-carbon by 2030 by supporting heat pumps, heat networks and “green” gas supplies, and to bring forward more low-carbon power and energy efficiency.

Efforts to develop technology to capture and store carbon emissions from power plants and heavy industry must also be restarted.

Committee chairman Lord Deben has warned there are economic opportunities in the shift to low-carbon, but unless the UK has a clear path, investors would invest in other countries.

Figures show the UK’s green economy is already worth £46bn, more than the UK’s chemicals, car, pharmaceuticals and aerospace industries combined, and 430,000 people are employed in the low carbon sector and its supply chains.

Energy minister Claire Perry said the government was looking at “carrots and sticks” to improve energy efficiency in homes, which could include measures like cutting stamp duty on sales where houses meet the standards.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “That would be one of the incentives to do it. We also need to look at building regulations to see what more needs to be done there.”

Asked if the government would consider making it more expensive to sell homes that were not properly insulated, she replied: “Well, I think it’s more likely that a home where insulation has been put in would attract a higher value because the running cost of that home over a lifetime would be lower.”

Recent figures showed that electricity produced from renewable sources accounted for almost 30 per cent of the total used by the UK in the second quarter of this year, while coal fell to just 2 per cent. 

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